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My Journey from Zero to SOS - By Shirley Advani (Menon)

As for as i can remember I always lived with dogs from the time I was born......But the turning point was when I moved to Andheri-west in Oct,2003....The appalling condition of animals is this area gave me nightmares and the only way to get peace of mind was to changes these conditions.Every day i would step out to the sight of a dead dog and that was it.Even though i have been doing animal welfare since 1996 in bandra where i used to live earlier.I really had only two options, to ignore it or do something about it and i chose the latter.

I was alone and realized the first thing I had to do was start sterilizing dogs to control everything. like injuries,puppies,cruelty etc. That's when i spoke to Fizzah shah from IDA and we agreed that she would send the ambulance atleast twice a month.We started in jan 2004 doing atleast 20 dogs a month and by the end of 2004.I had sterilized 125 dogs in my area. When I started initially I myself funded the whole operation and spent close to 25,000/- in the first year alone for operations/medicines ets. By Jul/Aug,04 I started meeting up with some ladies (mainly) who were feeding their blgd/outside bldg strays we all just clung together. By this time I was like this dog woman in my area and people would stop me on the streets for help/give me blessings/sometimes fire me as well for feeding them. All these women got together with me and in October our work finally got a name, SAVEOURSTRAYS. We started a kitty with each volunteer (8 of us initially) contributing Rs. 200/- which was spent on medicines/vets etc. Plus each one of us started bringing in donations from friends/family etc. Today the contribution from each volunteer is between Rs.500 - 1000/- and the donations in the form of money/biscuits/old bedsheets & towels, old leashes,newspapers and medicines are coming in.

In Nov,04 I met Brinda and by Feb,05 she decided to donate the ambulance after seeing the kind of work SOS was doing. From there are work just took off with our registration falling into place and SOS getting a more professional framework. In Jan 2006 we got our first employee Maria who is the best thing that happened to SOS.

I think the concept of SOS has worked beautifully in our area, and I always tell people IT STARTS WITH YOU ALONE! If I had not started by myself, I would never have met all my volunteers and today achieved the recognition/blessings for the good work we are doing. We are helping people in other areas to duplicate this concept, and hence tackle this gigantic issue.