Published: 17th August 2018
Meet Preethi Ramadoss, the PhD scholar who ensures Anna University's stray dogs are fed and happy
The PhD student said she would repeatedly get yelled and scolded at by University authorities because she would feed all the dogs on campus with leftovers from the canteen, until she wrote to Minister
A few weeks ago, a Tamil daily carried a news article about an Anna University student being accused by a professor of feeding rabid dogs on campus. The professor had made personal remarks about the student even though all the student did was feed dogs on campus, none of which were rabid as alleged. But this is, of course, not the first time that somebody found themselves in trouble just for feeding a few hungry mouths. Preethi Ramadoss, the feeder of Anna University's dogs, hopes that there will be fewer such instances in the future.
Even though Preethi was always fond of dogs, she never really had one till 2012, "I came home one day from college and my mother told me that there was an abandoned puppy opposite our house. It was pouring and I found a puppy sleeping on a plastic packet, covered with mosquitoes. I immediately brought her home and told my mother that we should keep her inside the house at least for a few days," the PhD scholar recalled. The family had never had pets because they were worried that the house would get dirty — but their fondness for the dog grew, "First she was only outside in the compound, then she moved into the hall, then into our bedrooms and after that, she never left. We loved her too much to let her go. She was the one who made me realise how much I cared for dogs," Preethi added.
The inspiration: Preethi with her dog, Jessie who is the reason why she decided to feed all the dogs on her campus
When Preethi adopted her dog, Jessie, she was doing her Master's at Anna University. Now for the last seven years, she has been doing her PhD. After being around Jessie, she began to notice all the other dogs on her campus, "Most of the dogs used to be starving and I used to buy them biscuits. But I knew that it wasn't enough so I went and spoke to our canteen owner and asked him if he could give me the leftover food since it was anyway going to waste. They agreed and I began to feed the dogs the leftovers," Preethi said.
She kept doing this for quite some time until some professors on campus started getting annoyed with her actions. They kept repeatedly warning her to stop feeding the dogs,"The dogs did not cause any sort of harm to anyone, all I did was feed them because they were starving. For some reason, the professors had a problem with me. Eventually, they directed the canteen to stop giving me any food and warned them that their contract would be terminated if they didn't follow instructions."
To the rescue: When the canteen refused to donate their food, Preethi had to start looking for options outside
After that, Preethi was left with no other option, so she thought she could collect some funds to buy food, "Then a friend of mine said that she will cook rice and chicken and bring it to college every day. She didn't want to distribute it though, because everyone was restricted from feeding the dogs. So I would help with buying the raw items for her to cook," But even this the authorities were not happy with, "I would get yelled at by many professors every now and then but I just refused to stop feeding them. Finally, when I couldn't take it anymore, I wrote to Maneka Gandhi," the 32-year-old said.
Gandhi immediately sent a letter to the management stating that they do not have the right to stop the student from feeding the dogs, "The administration called me and they demanded to know why I had written to the minister. They took me to task for that too but then they stopped after that. Since then nobody has said anything to me," Preethi explained.
Speaking about how it is unfair for people to stop others from feeding dogs, Preethi said, "If we feed starving dogs we become the cause for their overpopulation and for strays biting people. How does that even make sense? Are they supposed to starve to death? Isn't this world for all of us?" The PhD scholar said that she herself has helped sterilize many dogs like many other dog lovers but it was quite impossible to sterilize them all, "Feeding is one thing, sterilization is a whole other ball game. The corporation should take steps to sterilize the dogs," she added.
Scientist- Activist: For now, Preethi is not facing any issue with regard to her feeding the animals on campus
Besides the dogs on the streets, Preethi also said that dogs inside educational campuses are sometimes treated much worse, "So many of these educational institutions have such huge campuses and so much greenery. We have basically encroached on the land that belongs to other animals and then the administration tells us not to feed these animals. How is that fair? Even the deer on the campus don't have water. When I place water bowls for the animals they always disappear the next day." It's not as if they are as young as schoolkids, "Even in schools if the children are asked to not feed dogs, it is understandable because they might not be able to take enough precautions. But why do they have to stop fully grown adults from doing the same? she asked.
For now, Preethi is not facing any issue with regard to her feeding the animals on campus but even in the future if people still harass her about it, she says she will not back down. "Both inside campuses and outside, we should encourage people to be compassionate and help fellow living beings and if some of them cannot help it's okay but they should not stop others from lending a hand," she added.