An Interview with Achala Pani, Founder of Let’s Live Together

I was hungry and weak

All alone on the lonely streets

Being attacked with sticks and stones

I was longing for a safe and amiable home

Then one day, God sent me an angel

To take me out of this hell

She rescued me from distress and pain

And granted me a warm and loving home

This is the story of all those dogs whose precious lives have been saved by Achala Pani,the founder of Let’s Live Together, a volunteer animal helpline located in Bangalore. We all crib about the stray dog menace. Some of us feel the pain when we see those starving pups on streets. But how many of us go out there and actually save the lives of these animals? I am sure very few of us. Achala Pani’s intense love for canines did not let her ignore this issue. It gave her courage to speak up for the voiceless animals. A young graphic designer from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, Achala  has been an animal activist for past 10 years and a vegan for past 6 years. She is truly an angel for animals.

VP: Achala,tell us more about Let’s Live Together

Achala Pani(AP): ‘Let’s live together’ is about humans and animals living together in harmony for a better world. Through our project “Life on the streets” we are promoting the concept of people adopting homeless pups from streets instead of buying pedigree pups. This is a sensible way of saving the lives of innocent dogs and dealing with stray dog menace at the same time. So far Let’s Live together has been able to find homes for more than 1,000 abandoned and distressed stray dogs.

VP: What inspired you to start Let’s Live Together?

AP: My mom has been a big source of inspiration for me. When I was young, mom would bring home sick and homeless pups she found on the streets. Even I have been rescuing puppies from streets since then. With the cause of animal welfare being close to my heart, I took up a project “Life on the streets” as my graduation project. The project was about the plight of stray dogs, about their hunger and sleepless nights and their craving for unconditional love. This project has been life transforming for me. Since then there is no looking back.

VP: How does your organization help stray dogs? How do you convey your message to the people?

AP: We find a loving family and home for the homeless pups on streets. When people think of adopting a dog, they usually go for pedigree pups. They feel it’s a matter of prestige to have a breed dog. With our project “Life on the streets” we are conveying the message that for each dog they buy, they are killing the life of a stray dog on streets. We also organize adoption camps every month. Around 15-20 dogs get adopted in each camp. Apart from this, we also provide counseling to prospective pet owners on taking care of the dogs, sterilization and being a responsible pet owner. We put up stalls at public gatherings, events etc to create awareness about the cause.

VP: Do you receive any funding for the organization?

AP: There are few people who come and contribute money for the cause but otherwise we don’t receive any funding from anywhere. We rely on the funds raised by selling products like mugs, T-shirts and calendars.

VP: What keeps you motivated towards your mission?

AP: The happiness one experiences by saving a life heals the soul. You experience great joy when you see a little puppy get away from the life on streets and cuddle up in someone’s arms. It’s really wonderful to meet some of the puppies when they have grown up into dogs all happy in their loving homes. Puppy love certainly has the power to make miracles happen. The unconditional love that dogs give me keeps me motivated and pushes me to work harder to give my best towards this cause.

VP: What are the challenges you face while working towards this cause?

AP: For a lot of people having a pet is about having a cute-looking breed dog that would guard the house along with being a status symbol. The biggest challenge is convincing people that our Indian dogs are as lovable as breed dogs. There are thousands of puppies that die homeless because people choose to buy rather than adopt.

VP: What are your future goals for the organization?

AP: We hope to change the mindset of large number of people about Indian dogs so that more and more people adopt stray pups. I wish to see Let’s Live together as India’s best puppy adoption centre in a few years to come. If through my efforts I can sow the seeds of compassion in the hearts of people then it’s all worth it.

VP:  What can the youth do to make this world a better place for animals?

AP: Don’t buy a dog instead adopt a homeless Indian dog.

Be a responsible pet owner. Vaccine and neuter your pet and don’t ever abandon them. You should have a lifelong commitment towards your pet.

Help puppies on streets. Be kind to them. They deserve to be loved as much as we do.

You can support us in this cause by donating money, volunteering at community events, help us raise funds or foster a pup at your home.

Those wanting to support us in our work can visit our blog for more information.

Achala Pani has surely made her dream come true by relentlessly working towards her passion for animals. It reminds me of the quote by Paulo Coelho “When you want something badly enough, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.

Compiled by:

Swati Ramnath

[Image courtesy:]