Do you have any idea, how many dogs are becoming roadkill everyday in India?
In just a small city like Chandigarh, over 1000 animals were killed in road accidents since last year. The sad fact is that there is no such data generated or kept by the government for us to track. The numbers are from our personal survey with the help of local NGOs and rescue groups. The numbers will likely vary from state to state but this is a major concern for many of us (dog-lovers) in India. India is home to about 35 million stray dogs which keeps rising every day and with the rise in numbers, the chances of them being roadkill increases significantly.
So what are we doing about it?
Well, there are a few people like Shantanu Naidu, a 27-year-old engineer from Pune, who took up the matter into his hands by raising awareness on the safety of stray dogs and came up with a unique reflective collar idea.
Shantanu has been rescuing strays and abandoned dogs with the help of animal welfare services since his young age. His reflective collar idea began as Motopaws, he started when he was just 24-years old. His idea got the attention of Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group, Mr. Ratan Tata.
As the cost of the cause began to put pressure on their pockets, they needed help. They presented their initiative to Mr. Ratan Tata, who is an ardent dog lover and loves to contribute to dog welfare. He loved the idea and decided to support Naidu’s initiative by paying from his pocket. This was in 2015!
Previously, 70 percent of the production cost was being taken care of by Mr. Tata and 30 percent by Naidu and other volunteers linked with various NGOs.
Now, as of 2018, Shantanu works closely with Mr. Ratan Tata in his company. His job role includes helping Ratan Tata in his startup investments and providing executive assistance. Shantanu completed his MBA from Cornwell and then completed his internship with Tata Trusts. He says that it has been a learning experience from him.
The Collar Design
Shantanu started working on a collar design to help visibility of stray dogs on roads, especially during night time. He used a Retro Reflective Fabric with a denim base to create this collar. This helped him reduce the base cost as the reflective fabric is quite costly. With the first batch of collars ready, he realized that he needed something more to create visibility during day time as well. He started using an orange mesh fabric (used in security jackets). This made the collar visible during the day and more prominent during nights.
Motopaws now manufactures up to 1,500 collars per month. The collars have been upgraded and now water and fungus-proof. It also has a new buckling mechanism.
Motopaws have generated immense popularity in recent times and they have put collars around 2,700 dogs in Delhi, Goa, Assam, Uttarakhand, Bengaluru, Pune, and Mumbai. But they don’t give out the collars to anyone who approaches them. The collar is kept as free for now. But it does cost them a lot to manufacture these collars. As Naidu explained it, the cost of each collar comes to around Rs. 50, including the stitching cost.
Since 2015, with the help of the investment, Motopaws reached to 11 different cities in India. They have started getting requests from Nepal and Malaysia. They have an all-women team working tirelessly to help strays in the country. Motopaws has reached out and saved larger animals like cows, buffaloes, horses, etc. as well.