Gracy Edward, a 55-year-old woman, starts her day as early as 4 AM. Like all mothers, she cooks food for her kids, packs it in containers, and prepares herself to set out for works. Gracy’s kids are not humans. She feeds sixty stray dogs.
“I have realized that there is no purer form of love than that of a dog. Feeding dogs and taking care of them gives me utmost satisfaction,” says the resident of Moolapalayam, Erode.
For the past 17 years
From the past 17 years, she has been feeding about 60 stray dogs. She has been taking care of the dog shelter (built inside the animal birth control center) at Pokuvarathu Nagar in Solar road.
“My attachment to dogs developed during childhood. I had a couple of dogs at home which died later. That’s when I decided to take care of stray dogs. I become sad when I see newborn puppies abandoned and stray dogs injured. I immediately bring them home and give them proper care. Now I have five kids (dogs) at my home, all of them rescued from the streets.”
Through her service, she got acquainted with many animal welfare activists and became a member of People for Animals, a non-governmental organization. It is not an understatement to say that Gracy is a living example of being a giver. Her family runs on a limited income (her husband is a tailor) but it does not stop her from doing what she does.
“I do not earn and I am dependent on whatever money my husband gives. There have been times when I have had to compromise on my meal to feed the dogs,” she says.
Gracy’s daily schedule
Every morning, around 6 am, she leaves her home with packed food — a mixture of rice, curd, egg, and milk. “While walking through the streets, just one call and they come running towards me. I feed about 20 dogs on the way to the shelter and once there, I feed 40 more,” said Gracy with a smile.
She serves 15 kg of rice every day to dogs and spends Rs 6,000 per month for the same. Gracy cleans the cages at the shelter, bathes the dogs, and provides medication to all sick dogs. She also pays the fee to veterinarians who treat the dogs.
Struggle from within
Her good deeds, however, have had repercussions. Her children who are married do not visit Gracy as they feel it is unhygienic to have stray dogs at home.
“My children have not been with me through this journey. I have been living with dogs all my life and I do not have any ailment to date. It is all about love and being with dogs gives me peace than anything else in this world. Even when my children did not support me, I did not stop my service,” she said.
Support from elsewhere
The ride has not always been bumpy for Gracy and Edward for there are many who see what she does and appreciate her work. Erode-based animal welfare activist Janagaraj said that Gracy faced heat not only from her family members but even her neighbors.
“They filed several complaints with the police stating that her actions might spread diseases in the locality. But she overcomes hatred to continue her service,” he added.
Noting her service, State Honourary Animal Welfare Officer, Tamil Nadu (West Zone), Kalpana Vasudevan, said, “Gracy is a dedicated animal lover who has rescued many dogs from the streets against several odds. However, her service is unrecognized. She is an inspiration to many youngsters who love animals. If veterinarians and like-minded people come together to support her in any way possible, it would be of great help to her.”