Dharamsala Animal Rescue simply doesn’t exist without its wonderful staff team. Period.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — DAR is only as good as its staff and volunteers. In previous posts, we’ve talked to some volunteers who have given their time generously to help all the furries in Dharamsala. Now it’s time to highlight some of our core staff members, who work tirelessly for one reason only: our beloved desi dogs!

On a recent trip to India, I managed to catch up with some of the DAR staff. Next up is Shweta, who is the Rescue Coordinator. We chatted about her lifelong love of dogs, what she’s learned from working at DAR and a special connection with a blind dog called Sukh.

Vaila: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Dharamsala Animal Rescue.

Shweta: I work as the Rescue Coordinator at DAR which means I handle the helpline number, take rescue calls, do rescues and generally help out with anything else that needs done. I joined DAR in January 2022 as the Rescue Coordinator but have known the organisation for many years and learned how to do treatments here before.

Vaila: Tell us about an event that sticks out in your mind/has stayed with you (whilst working for DAR), or heartwarming story…

Shweta: Working with shelter dogs seems very easy if you have a heart and love animals. People see our posts and say “oh look, they’re cuddling the dogs – what an easy job” but most of the time the reality isn’t like that. We see dogs come in in very bad condition and every rescue has a different story. And we can’t say no – we have to do our best for them and so every rescue seems to me to be a heartwarming story. They are all worthy of that title.

Vaila: What do you love about working for DAR?

Shweta: This is my favourite question! There are so many dogs here and I’m a dog lover so it’s the best job for me. Obviously we have lots to do in a day but we have to make time for playing with the dogs, cuddling them, grooming them and I talk to them as I go about my work. This is the great thing about working with DAR.

Vaila: Have you always been a dog lover since childhood?

Shweta: Oh yes – my family really supports me – they’re also animal/dog lovers. Since my childhood I’ve always been surrounded by dogs and we had pets. I still have a pet – my adopted dog and we also feed the strays around our neighbourhood. So, at work and at home I’m constantly around dogs.

Vaila: Has working for DAR changed your perspective on stray dogs/how you think about strays? 

Shweta: Before working here, I only knew how to feed dogs. I honestly did not know how to treat them – I would see dogs in need but had know idea what to do. Since working for DAR my eyes have been opened to the needs of stray dogs and how to help them with food, shelter and medicine.I know how to give first aid now so if I saw a dog in need, without a doubt, I’d start treatment. So, my perspective and what I’m able to do has changed in a big way.

Vaila: What can local people in Dharamsala do to help stray dogs?

Shweta: Now, many people know about DAR and are more likely to call us if a dog needs rescued or needs treatment. This generation is changing – more people care about dogs and are adopting dogs so we can see improvements. The awareness is growing.

Vaila: Who’s your favourite stray? 

Shweta: (Laughs) Every dog is my favourite but a really special one is Sukh. He’s blind, he does funny growls but never bites. Every morning I go to pet him and talk to him and he gives me those same vibes in return. Sukh is my favourite; we have a special connection.

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About the author

Vaila Erin is a writer, lover of animals, and a bit of a nomad. For her, life is about stories — observing yourself and others so that you can laugh, cry and entertain each other with its absurdities. Connect with her at vailaerin.com or via LinkedIn.