Whom does a stray dog hurt in an accident, or a pet dog abused by its owners, turn to for help? It has one loyal friend in Delhi called Friendicoes. This animal shelter was started as a kindness club for stray animals in the 1970s by a group of school children under the Defence Colony flyover. The space was provided by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
Photographs & Text by: Srishti Bhardwaj
Friendicoes is a landmark of sorts in Delhi. Every day, dogs are abandoned. Or they are brought to the shelter by people who find them injured or in trouble. “We always take them in,” says Geeta Seshamani, Friendicoes’ kind hearted vice-president.
Two years ago Friendicoes found itself in financial distress but a sustained social media campaign and crowd funding helped it avert the threat of closure. On 25 August 2015, it launched the “Let’s Save Friendicoes From Shutting Down” campaign on the Bit Giving crowd-funding platform. The campaign raised more than Rs 10 lakh on the first day itself.
Friendicoes has an in-house clinic for strays that accommodates about 150-200 animals, two operation theatres, a lab and an X-ray unit.
All the dogs living in Friendicoes have been found on various streets. The owners abandoned them for various reasons. Some dogs would bite, others fell ill and some dogs were old. People usually tie their dogs on the streets near Friendicoes or a park adjacent to the shelter. They leave without giving any information to the staff of Friendicoes. They just don’t want to keep the dog. Many people help abused stray dogs by admitting them in the shelter.
Mandy Seth, one of the owners of Friendicoes says lack of information about the abandoned dog makes their task much more difficult. There are hundreds of dogs in Friendicoes. It is very difficult for the staff to give each dog a new name. Labradors come into Friendicoes because they have a tendency to settle. Friendly dogs are free to mingle with people and other animals who come to the clinic.
Stray dogs or desi dogs find a home here. After being sterilised they are sent back to the place where they were originally found. Long time dog residents are sent to Friendicoes’ sanctuary in Gurgaon. Around 1,000 animals are sheltered here.
Friendicoes organises adoption drives for dogs after they have been treated. They have two Dalmatians who are waiting for a new home. Both are gentle and sweet but nobody is ready to adopt them.
Sadly there is nothing wrong with these beautiful souls, and all they need is a big heart and a safe home. Two puppies have been adopted. Desi dogs (or the Indian Pariah) are extremely intelligent, strong and sturdy. Children are happy to take them home and care for them.