A dog is a substitute for honesty. No other animal or human can match a dog’s honesty. That is why people love dogs the most. In today’s competitive world where people are busy making life, there is a village where dogs have become millionaires.
You might be surprised by this, yes but there is a village in Gujarat called Panchot, where dogs have become millionaires. over 70 dogs of Panchot have almost 21 bighas of land (four bighas make an acre) for their welfare. This means that each of the 70 dogs is the unofficial owner of nothing less than a crore of land.
Panchot has an informal village trust named ‘Madh ni Pati Kutariya Trust’ which holds this land. And while the land may not technically be in the dogs’ names, all the income from the land is set aside for the dogs.
As the sowing season draws close every year, each plot of this land is auctioned. While the highest bidder gets tilling rights for a year, the money generated (close to Rs 1 lakh) goes into the maintenance and sustenance of the system.
This land did not cost all that much seven decades ago when it was donated to the dogs. But due to the construction of the Mehsana bypass towards Radhanpur, today it has a market value of some Rs. 3.5 Crore per bigha.
The village, for over 70 years, has had a firm belief in the concept of ‘kutariyu’ – which means the setting aside of things for dogs. This practice finds its roots in a long historical tradition of ‘jivdaya’ or compassion for animals.
As part of this tradition, many well-to-do families started donating pieces of land for the welfare of animals. The driving forces behind the establishment of the trust was a group of four farmers, including Prabha Lallu, Chatur Viha, Amtha Kalu and Lakha Sheth. The interesting point is that all of the lands that were transferred have no formal documentation. In fact, to date the land records that exist still reflect the name of the original owner. And yet, none of these landowners or their successive generations ever returned to reclaim their share, regardless of any financial crisis.
Every day at 7.30 pm, about 15 volunteers with handcarts loaded with rotlas and crushed flatbread distribute the food at 11 spots across the village where these strays gather.
Twice a month, on the full moon and new moon days, another special side dish gets added to the menu – laddus.
These rotlas are prepared at a special building constructed by the trust called the ‘rotla ghar.’ Established in 2015, two women prepare over 80-odd rotlas every day inside the building with 20-30 kg flour. The flour mill owner who supplies the ingredients to prepare the pearl millet flatbread won’t charge any money.
While strays inside the village are taken good care of by the locals, even those on the outskirts or living near farms are fed by these distribution drives.
The trust, in addition to focussing on dogs, also follows charitable practices for birds and other animals. Over 500 kg of grains is received annually to feed birds. Many of these contributors are families of deceased members.