THE BLOG

'The Voice of Stray Dogs' Subjected to Harassment

25/09/2014 13:16 BST | Updated 24/11/2014 10:59 GMT

The Voice of Stray Dogs [VoSD] is a leading animal rescue organisation based in Bangalore, India. Unfortunately, it has recently been subjected to serious online and offline harassment. This is not an unknown phenomena in animal rescue. Some years ago, Romanian Animal Rescue was subjected to similar attacks following its efforts to expose another rescue organisation. Similarly, VoSD investigation reports to expose a rescue outfit appears to have resulted in the the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) canceling the outfit's authorization to operate. In February 2014, an appeal to the Karnataka High Court stayed the move. Co-incidentally, the harassment commenced after this.

VoSD was founded by Mr Rakesh Shukla, affectionately known as the "Dog Father". It was sent up single-handedly after he felt obliged to do something about the plight of stray dogs in India. Well known for keeping dogs in his home [ the VoSD Sanctuary] and in his office, Rakesh has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the care of stray dogs [ with greater than 90% contributed by himself]. One visitor said ""Rakesh's growing family of rescued dogs is a sight to behold. It is amazing how so many dogs together get on so well".

He operates a system that has rescued more than 3000 dogs in 2 years with 400+ permanent dogs under his care. VoSD offers the highest standard of service and is equipped with the latest technology so that stray dogs get the best possible care.

More than 25 million street dogs co-exist with human beings throughout India. They are found almost everywhere - on roadsides, under cars, on benches and sleeping on pavements. Population control is a challenge. The life of a stray dog is not easy. Its struggles with daily traffic, animals and encounters with people makes its existence a difficult one. It is clear that these vulnerable animals need a voice. Odette Thompkins, a relative of a fellow rescuer said " Rakesh started his website VOSD, highlighting terrible animal abuse in India - things that other people were frightened to address. Kerala us a terrible place for animals and terrible things go on".

Anyone who follows VoSD on social networking will understand the love and care given to these vulnerable animals. Without their care, these dogs would perish on the streets.

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Voice of strays runs a free trauma and rescue service in Bangalore. Essentially, one call to them will result in an urgent response with relevant medical care. In addition, its website contains the largest original data, analysis and investigative data repository for dogs in India and probably anywhere in the world. Their motto is "We believe we can make a difference to stray dogs in multiple ways. Different interventions can deliver results at different scales." VoS is admired worldwide for their tireless work above and beyond the call of duty. Their campaign and advocacy on population control in dogs and raising awareness in other animal rights issues is legendary.

Despite their hard work and dedication to their cause, this organisation seems to be subjected to harassment of the most horrendous kind. In summary, they have been subjected to online hate speech, cyber-harassment and also revolving door complaints.

Sometime ago, an individual made a number of allegations detailed here. The founder Mr Rakesh Shukla found himself threatened with arrest and was forced to defend himself here. Following bail, he assisted in the police investigation. The facts were produced before the judge and police. Subsequently, the case was closed. By the 10th September 2014, the organisation was subjected to severe cyberharassment leading him to write a personal Facebook comment. The local paper then quoted the post out of context adding their own embellishments to spice up the tale. Following the colourful language used in this article, Mr Shukla was arrested a day after its release. The local paper took no responsibility for their mischief or the impact on the essential rescue of dogs.

Astonishingly, the same complaint that had been cleared initially was filed yet again at a different police station with the local media gleefully printing yet another one sided version resembling idle gossip. While making a number of allegations, the complainant failed to mention that she had never met Mr Shukla.

Mr Shukla was again released by the police and vowed to clear his name. It is astonishing that the Bangalore Police have not taken it upon themselves to investigate the pattern of harassment that VoSD have been subjected to.

Indeed, VoSD supporters have been shocked by this turn of events and have offered their support. Helen Dufton who is based in Italy and knows VoSD wrote

"I was horrified to find out from the investigation carried out by VOSD into the Animal Rights Fund shelter and the way that animals were not treated in their care. Rakesh and the whole team at VOSD are a dedicated committed and totally transparent organisation and team in all aspects of their rescue work. I would trust all of them without exception. Rakesh not only is concerned with dogs in Bangalore but also with Indian dogs throughout India and those that find themselves in difficulty abroad. He is a compassionate, vocal and a person who will not compromise or bow down to others for the sake of "politics" this is a rarity in India".

Dog rescue is not a simple business where politics and corruption is rife.