Far into the Indian state of Karnataka lies a hidden oasis for the the country’s unwanted dogs. Its leader is Rakesh Shukla, a software engineer who created this three and a half acre sanctuary, which now houses over 735 dogs.
The canine residents cover all breeds and backgrounds. Some are pedigree dogs abandoned by tragic circumstances, others are mixed breed pups who spent their entire lives on the street until now.
“I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” said Shukla, 45, who also responds to the name Dog Father.
According to BBC News, before he was Dog Father, Shukla started a software company with his wife which led to wealth and the adventures that come with it.
“I had worked in Delhi, in the United States and then set up my own company in Bangalore,” he told the BBC. “Life was all about buying big cars and expensive watches and living a fancy life. I had travelled and seen the world many times over, but then I was not happy.”
What changed this course of life for Shukla was the arrival of a golden retriever named Kavya.
“It was a physical feeling, my hair was tingling, I could feel a warm glow. And I’ve never needed to ask myself that question – ‘why am I here?’ – again after that,” Shukla said.
Three months after that came Lucky, who the engineer rescued off the street during a downpour. Soon, Shukla was taking in any abandoned dog he found. Once the number of pups began to fill the house and overwhelm his wife, Shukla bought some land where the dogs could roam free and be well-cared for.
The land has grown into a haven for dogs, filled with ponds and areas to play. Shukla spends three to four days a week here, helping 10 employees look after the dogs, feed them chicken and rice, and tend to any illness.
To provide this kind of care to over 700 dogs costs about $663 a day, 93% of which Shukla pays himself. And while the engineer has faced critics over the years, he plans to help these innocent animals for as along as he can.