Having distributed dog houses and dog jackets in winters, Gajraj Singh Kachhawa on February 4 started a small counter, “Bejubano Ki Rasoi”, near the Vivek Vihar metro station in Jaipur to serve hot cooked food for stray dogs at Rs 5.
“I have been feeding hot cooked meals to dogs along with my team of 10-12 people for the past two years. It began in the lockdown with feeding people. I realised there were many who were feeding the needy, but so many stray dogs were left hungry. With all the restaurants closed, these dogs weren’t even getting leftovers like they used to. That is when I began feeding freshly cooked food to stray dogs regularly.”
Kachhawa, 27, owns a club near the dog food stall. It’s in the club’s kitchen that he has been preparing dog food for the past two years. He and his team used to feed 500-700 dogs every day during the lockdown, he told indianexpress.com.
“We feed pigeons and cows and call it ‘dharma’, whereas dogs get leftovers and garbage and many people are even scared of dogs. If you feed a dog once, it will not forget you for 10 years,” said Kachhawa.
In this Rs 5 meal for dogs, Kachhawa mixes paneer, soybean, rice and eggs along with multivitamin medicines for dogs. Kachhawa explains that paneer and eggs are for protein and that rice holds water so dogs do not feel dehydrated in summers. Eggs have been included instead of meat because many people feeding the dogs are vegetarians.
“We started this concept because a lot of people wish to feed dogs but do not have the resources to. My objective is to get as many people as possible to adapt to feeding nutritious food to stray dogs and make it a habit. I am even giving people the recipe. I believe if every person begins to feed one stray dog every day, no dog will sleep hungry,” Kachhawa added.
Claiming that biscuits are poisonous for dogs, Kachhawa added that sugar and milk often end up being the food for worms that stray dogs ingest from garbage and leftovers.
“I actually got the idea of Bejubano Ki Rasoi when I saw someone feed a Rs 5 biscuit packet to a stray dog. When I told this man that it was harmful for the dog, he said, ‘At least he is eating something, which is better than him being hungry’. That is when I thought if people could buy Rs 5 biscuits to feed dogs, they would also be okay with spending Rs 5 to serve stray dogs with nutritious food,” he said.
Talking about packaged dog food available in the market, Kachhawa said it is dry and ends up dehydrating dogs a lot. “The idea was to serve freshly cooked food to dogs. The reason why so many stray dogs get into accidents or cry at night is that they stay hungry for days. This is also why they stray onto roads.”
Jayesh, a customer at the stall, said, “I have been feeding stray dogs for a while. I used to spend up to Rs 20,000 on pedigree, whereas this food is cheaper. Also, I see dogs are really excited and hungry for this food. They seem to really like it.”
Kachhawa said that he had initially thought of distributing dog food for free, but his friends and colleagues suggested charging a small amount.
“I am taking Rs 5 because the container in which the food is being packaged costs Rs 4.5. We are not accepting any donations. Our major funding comes from the team, members of which contribute a fixed amount every month. With donations, people give money and feel like their work is done, but I want people to go out and feed stray dogs themselves and feel the happiness it brings along.”
Rakesh, who was buying packets to feed stray dogs, said, “It has been a month since I started feeding stray dogs. I have been buying this food for the last two days, and the response of dogs has been great. One dog ends up eating two to three packets daily.”
Vineeta, who has also been feeding stray dogs for a while, said, “I used to feed dogs anything that was available in my house, from rotis to eggs. But every day I had to think about what would be okay for them to eat and what wouldn’t be. While rotis are good, they aren’t as nutritious. But this food is completely nutritious and I do not have to think twice about what I would be feeding my stray dogs today.”
Kachhawa plans to open five-six more such counters to serve food for stray dogs. “I want to launch more of these for this food to be more accessible to people who want to feed the dogs. I am planning to open them in Malviya Nagar, Raja Park, Transport Nagar, Mansarovar and Vaishali Nagar. I don’t want to ask for donations because the accountability decreases. If I ever see the need for more funds, I will contact only the government for funds.”