Fondly called as Ammaji, Pratima Devi the Dog Lady is 62-year-old rag picker by profession who takes care of over 400 stray dogs. Herself living in a house made of tin and torn rugs, Pratima Devi has 120 ‘pet’ dogs! She spends her time feeding and nursing these dogs. Pratima Devi has been Living in south Delhi’s Saket neighborhood for over 30 years now. She spends all her income on looking after over her 400 doggies. “I look after over 400 dogs – about 200 around my home. Others are scattered in the courtyard of the PVR complex up to J-block. My dogs never bite. They have been sterilized and vaccinated by the MCD,” says Pratima Devi.
Pratima Devi the dog lady left her husband after years of a torture. She was married at the tender age of seven to an 18-year-old man. He used to drink and beat her up. Mustering dare she left him and came to Delhi in early 1980 from Nandigram in West Bengal. She is the mother of three children who live in her native village. They ask her to be with them. But, Pratima’s life is dedicated to the welfare of her dogs, whose company she loves and calls them lovingly as ‘her children’. Some of the dogs whom she cares were abandoned by their owners, others rescued from accidents.
Pratima Devi the dog lady every day buys 12 kgs of rice and 5 kgs of meat for their lunch. She feeds them with 10 liters of milk in their breakfast. She spends all her time feeding and nursing the poor dogs. She is always more careful for her dogs’ welfare than for herself. She even scavenges for scraps of meat in the garbage to feed her dogs.
Pratima set up a small tea stall, where she would feed biscuits to the local stray dogs. Unfortunately, once her tea stall was destroyed and she was unable to eat herself and so also her beloved dogs. She said: “For four days I ate nothing and didn’t give anything to them also.” Soon she rebuilt her tea shop and started earning. Along with her own money, she gets donations of bread, food, and milk for the dogs from generous people. She even saves money to take her dogs to the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.
Pratima Devi the dog lady is a true hero because of her pure love and unconditional care for stray dogs. She proves a woman can do anything only if she really wishes to do it. Amid poverty and crisis, she is feeding and taking all possible care of over 400 dogs daily. Isn’t it a surprise? Hats off to her for her determination and caring nature.