When passion and compassion fuel a business, great things happen!
Saving animals has always been a tireless pursuit for Pooja Sakpal and her 3 friends. In today’s blog, we look at what inspired Pooja, Priya, Akarsh and Meenal to start YODA which currently plays a pivotal role in animal treatment and wellness advocation in Mumbai.
So, what inspires people to take on this challenge of saving animals? As it turns out, there are often moments that seals the fate of an animal lover/advocate and Pooja’s came happened during childhood. As a child, she just could not wrap her head around the fact that strays were just starving on the streets without a home. Like most parents, Pooja’s parents did not empathise with her idea of bringing them home and adopting them as her own. Over the years, Pooja and her friends have treated, temporarily/permanently homed many animals. After several years of donating her time and efforts to treating animals from her own house, she was encouraged to start her own shelter and it took very little convincing from her peers!
Yoda started in a 500 sq. feet space in Mahim’s Koli area. Initially, YODA operated as an on-road treatment program wherein the team purchased an ambulance, hired a full-time driver and employed a Vet part-time. The burden of costs and expenditure was entirely on the four of them and all the money came from their own pockets. YODA has neutered thousands of dogs and cats since starting out.
“We did not know that the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) does not have any kind of program for neutering stray cats. So that’s what we focussed our efforts on. After a couple of months, the word had spread and we started getting calls for neutering animals from different parts of the city. ”
In order to keep things moving, YODA started charging a small fee for the services provided by the Vet. Apart from this, the fee charged covers prescribed medication & post-operative care.
“Just like human beings, animals absolutely require post-operative care to ease and complete their recovery. We would never force a family member out of the hospital right after an operation so why do it when it comes to animals.”
Eventually, Yoda started neutering dogs as well. They have also moved from their little space to a 1500 sq. feet space in the in Mahim’s Koliwada area. Officially they are supposed to house 11 dogs and 27 cats, but in reality, they foster 50+ cats and 22-25 dogs. Everything is handled by a team of 8 which includes 1 resident Vet, 1 part-time Vet, 5 helpers and an ambulance driver.
“If we join hands together, I am sure that we can work towards the betterment of animals successfully. Currently, we only adopt adult dogs, but If you see an animal in distress, please give us a call and we will take care of the rest. We never say no to treatment!”
When it comes to funds, the expenses are always more than the donations they receive from different parts of the city. Running YODA is a fulltime job for Pooja and the funds raised by the neutering services they provide is funneled into the treatment of strays or abandoned pets so that they can be rehomed. NGOs like PETA have also approached them for the affordable neutering services that YODA offers.