How often do you come across someone who had an epiphany at the age of 16? Very rarely! I recently found a young aeronautical engineer turned animal rescuer who became quite a messiah for stray animals in the city of pearls, Hyderabad in India. His story is nothing short of amazing.
Deven’s Hope is a non-profit organization that transforms the lives of injured dogs and is run by 25-year-old Deven Jaya Baheti. The four-year NGO swiftly became a reality when a truck driver ran over a dog just for kicks. After filing a police complaint, the driver was granted bail by paying a mere 50 Indian rupees ($0.66).
Deven rescued that poor dog who suffered a ruptured central nervous system and permanent damage to her sight and hearing for the rest of her life. He named her Hope, which gave birth to Deven’s Hope – Hope for humanity!
From being scared to loving dogs
“I was scared of dogs. If I would see them, I’d run in the other direction,” Deven tells me. During a holiday at his farmhouse, seven years back, in the monsoon night, he heard a puppy cry and that changed everything as if it was a calling.
He went to check what happened and found a 20-days-old puppy stuck in a water pipe flowing with water. After a grueling three hours to rescue her, she was saved. He named her Lexi after a character in The Vampire Diaries.
Deven brought her back to the city and went from pillar to post to find her a shelter home. Unable to find one, he adopted her. Since then, Lexi has never left his side: “She’s like my daughter.”
Before Lexi came into his life, he never understood why stray dogs and other animals deserve a life? Over time through many rescue operations, he learned the importance of every being on this planet. Although he was still a student when he found her, money was a constraint, but his family support kept him going. Everything kept fitting in like a jigsaw puzzle.
In their beginning days, Deven’s Hope managed to raise funds by means of crowdfunding through social media platforms. These funds are used for medical treatment and care of all kinds of rescued animals.
On a daily basis, he does at least 5-6 rescues and receives 7 to 11 calls. “We have lost track of the number of dogs we have rescued. Two years ago, our count was more than 3000,” says Deven. He mostly rescues domesticated animals, but he has personally helped snakes, elephants, horses, monkeys and other animals.
The Pet Cafe
“I adopted another puppy one and a half years back who was critically injured when a few boys planted a firecracker in his bum, which led to multiple fractures and a docked tail,” Deven tells me. This inhumane incident made him realize most Indians don’t like stray dogs and a home for them was the need of the hour.
Along with his partner Sonam Singh, he started The Pet Cafe which shelters 52 dogs who are deaf, blind and have three or two legs. It is always swarmed with children, young students, animal lovers and people who are not allowed to keep pets at their home.
You get treated to an overwhelmingly beautiful sight when you see unadulterated love being showered by these furry babies despite all the betrayal they experienced from humans. Deven: “You have a rough day come to pet cafe, just sit and get unconditional love from these rescued animals, you will find so many puppies licking, snuggling, and giving you love.” Not to forget, a good human interaction relieves the animals of trauma.
Today, their primary source of income is The Pet Cafe. The revenue generated from this is spent on medical treatments of rescued dogs and other animals. From Deven’s Hope, dogs are fostered at The Pet Cafe where they are up for adoption once the animals are fit. Pre- and post-adoption checks are made to ensure pets are in safe hands. Last year, they successfully managed 67 adoptions and all of them are Indie dogs.
The notable trend since he and Sonam opened the cafe in Hyderabad deserves a mention, a total of 65 cafes in Hyderabad turned pet friendly. It also enjoys the highest google rating (4.8) in the city.
Feeding stray animals during the lockdown
“It was horrible, the only source of food vanished due to lockdown in peak summer,” says Deven. The main source of food for stray animals was leftovers from local cafes and food stalls, which was stopped for an indefinite amount of time during the lockdown due to the coronavirus.
To curb their suffering, Deven’s Hope picked up volunteers and formed a WhatsApp group of 70 active members who came from different localities around the city, to feed stray animals. Each person was assigned the task of feeding 40 dogs in their own area. They would wake up at 6 am and cook food on a charity basis and bestowed these angel faces with love and kindness they truly deserved.
More than 110 abandonment cases of fancy dog breeds like Husky, St. Bernard, and Labrador came to light during two months of lockdown. What’s shocking here is the lack of awareness. Most of the owners thought dogs spread COVID-19 and many dog owners called Deven’s Hope with the intention to drop their dogs at the cafe.
Owners refused to understand that the virus isn’t spread by any contact with animals. “If this is the condition of pets, imagine the condition of stray dogs,” Deven says. “I’m happy lockdown has been lifted.”
Why would you help a stray dog?
He narrated his experience from that very morning we spoke. He was called for a rescue attempt at Women’s College in Koti. Upon arrival, he found a mother in a horrendous condition, surrounded by her newborn puppies. She was paralyzed after someone ran over her.
While he was helping her, students and lecturers with a perplexed look on their faces discouraged him and told him not to jeopardize his own life by touching a dog. “Let it die”, said the onlookers. Around ten people stood in a corner, freely giving their advice except any offer to assist him.
The attitude was appalling, but he maintained his cool. Most of them don’t understand why anyone would help a stray dog or any animal? “You got to do what you got to do, whether someone is walking with you or not”, Deven.
The future of Deven’s Hope
Ultimately, Deven has plans for expansion and his next stop is Pune, Maharashtra. He wants to save and foster as many stray animals as he can and provide them mini shelter. When people see kindness, they eventually come forward and help you in your endeavor.
“This is just a start. My life’s goal is to tell more and more people to stop buying dogs, instead start adopting dogs. It is not a commodity. A stray dog is a dog too”, he says.
Deven’s Hope is constantly fighting to remove the stigma around stray dogs and create a world free of any animal cruelty.