Wildlife & Biodiversity

Tales of cruelty and compassion from a home for destitute animals

All Creatures Great and Small, a shelter set up by humanist and social worker Anjali Gopalan, is a sanctuary for a disparate group of animals

Published: Tuesday 01 January 2019

In 2013, humanist and social worker Anjali Gopalan decided to volunteer at a shelter for destitute dogs. But she was appalled, when she saw the deplorable conditions in which these dogs were kept. She decided that she could provide better care for these animals and started her own shelter at Selakhari, a village in Faridabad district of Haryana about an hours drive from Delhi.

"We initially wanted to have a home for dogs," Gopalan said, "but people started bringing in all sorts of animals".

Gopalan named the shelter on the title of her favourite book "All Creatures Great and Small," written by veterinary surgeon and author, Dr. James Herriot.

The shelter began with a batch of 55 dogs, but soon took in other animals mostly from her rural surroundings. From a shelter for dogs, it became a sanctuary for a disparate group of animals. There are over 600 animal inmates, including cats, donkeys, pigs, horses, cows, monkeys and even emus.

"Most of these animals are either rescued by us or left at the shelter by the local residents," says Gopalan. A few years ago there was a rush to farm these exotic emus. But soon farmers realised that it was not a profitable business and they abandoned these birds. Most of them were either knocked down in traffic accidents, eaten by local predators or died of disease. A few that remained are now residents of All Creatures Great and Small.

The sanctuary has its own veterinary team, that not only treats its own residents but also out patient animals brought in by villagers from that area. It has a fully functional operation theatre that carries out physical injuries, minor surgeries, dressings, vaccinations, amputations and sterilisations.

"The money for running this sanctuary come from my personal earnings and investments," said Gopalan, who has been trying to raise funds through donations.

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