The Lingalas have always stood by their dogs, even if it means having to live without electricity and water
Wagging its black and white tail, Shiny likes to reach out for a friendly pat from people passing by.
Sitting next to her is Chintu, who is not too enamoured of humans. He likes his space, and frequently finds himself in the middle of a fight with his furry friends.
Shiny and Chintu are just two of 33 dogs living with Lingala Bhairavi (25), who rescued all of them from the street and now rears them under one roof. For nearly two decades, Bhargavi’s family has been rescuing street dogs, some in a badly bruised state and others as abandoned pups. Some have followed them home and have stayed ever since.
Over the years, Bhargavi along with her parents and two sisters have cared for the dogs as their own family, meticulously keeping a record of each dog’s vaccines and other medical issues.
Sadly, all is not well for Bhargavi and her family as they have been living without water supply and electricity for the past two months.
For the past nine months, they have been looking for a house on rent after Bhargavi’s father Lingala Satyanarayana retired from his job at Visakhapatnam Port Trust. All this while, the family has been staying in the Port quarters provided to Mr. Satyanarayana. However, for the past couple of months, they have been living without power and water supply as they were forced to overstay at the quarters with nobody in the city willing to provide the family a place on rent.
“When we tell people that we have 33 dogs with us, they give us a bewildered look and instantly refuse to give their house on rent. Many have suggested us to hand over the dogs to a shelter home. But how can I abandon them? They are like my children and have become a part of lives now and we cannot think of staying without even one of them,” says Bhargavi, an M.Com student of Andhra University.
There were days when the sisters had to rush one of the dogs to a veterinary hospital late at night because of an emergency. “They reciprocate our love for them in full, maybe even more,” Bhargavi says.
The Lingalas start their day at 4. 30 a.m. daily, when they take the dogs out for a walk. After that, Bhargavi and her sisters spend three hours filling water in large containers from their neighbour’s home.
Financial struggle is another part of their lives. Every month, the family bears an expenditure of ₹25,000 on caring for the dogs. Bhargavi’s eldest sister works at an electronic store while their father is a pensioner. “We are able to manage somehow,” says Bhargavi. She feels that most people have a negative approach when it comes to stray dogs. “Stray dogs are more loyal to you because they have hardly received any love before. Once you feed them, they’re yours forever.”