Transformative Tale from 'The Ahimsa Fellowship'

By Sandeep Reddy

From someone who never noticed animals to becoming a COO with IAF, India’s first backbone organisation for animal welfare, it’s proof that compassion and dedication can shake one up and get them to act. 

My animal adventure kicked off when I met my wife at 28. She brought two cute Indie dogs into my life, and, honestly, I never really cared much about animals before that. The bond I developed with them was the sole reason for my perspective to shift. Unexpectedly, the mutts roaming the streets began to give off a family vibe. I began noticing them and understanding their plight living on the streets. 

One day, I came across a street dog who was hit by a vehicle. Long story short, that became my first rescue, and it felt awesome. I started doing more of that – rescuing and releasing them back into their localities, and watching their tails wag vigorously when they saw their friends again gave me immense satisfaction. With time, I realised that the odd rescue wasn’t enough; there were so many unsterilised community animals around me, and their uncontrolled population growth meant that the cycle of suffering would continue for generations. That’s how I got into working on animal birth control (ABC). I started taking them myself, as the local authorities were not effective enough in catching them. I figured taking them myself was the only way, but even doing that once a week, with five or six dogs, sometimes even eight, wasn’t enough. So, I got a vehicle, a driver, and a volunteer coordinator who coordinated with local feeders to identify dogs that needed ABC.  We took dogs 3-4 days a week to the ABC centre and released them after sterilisation. We did about 3,000 like that over a period of 5-years, all while I still had my day job as a country head of an MNC IT company.

Transformative Tale from

After spending years just picking up dogs, cats, and getting them spayed and vaccinated, I realised that this was just the tip of the iceberg. The number of dogs is a drop in the ocean when you look at the broader picture of how animals are exploited for human consumption. I began contemplating about hens in battery cages, pigs and goats raised and sold for slaughter, the horses and donkeys used for transport, cows and buffaloes in dairies and so many more animals that go unnoticed – all leading miserable lives in unnatural conditions. I decided I could no longer justify being in a conventional job when my passion lay elsewhere.  

In my journey to find answers on how I could help all these animals, I joined the Ahimsa Fellowship, a programme run by the People for Animals Public Policy Foundation (PFA PPF).  The programme aims to strengthen the animal welfare movement in India by developing leaders. After nine months of rigorous training in public policy, law, and fieldwork, I was given the opportunity to join IAF as the COO. In the last year and a half of IAF’s existence, we have onboarded over 25 organisations, with 15 ongoing projects. We have raised 20 crores so far for the cause. The journey from being a regular person with an IT job to becoming the COO for IAF has been a rewarding journey. What particularly excites me is that we are helping build an organisation that will serve as a backbone to create an ecosystem: an ecosystem that will galvanise the animal justice movement in India, with the aim to demonstrably reduce animal suffering across species.