Royce Patel’s home in Andheri East is more like a hospital than a home, he says. At any point in time, the 50-year-old bachelor lives with an astounding number of animals who need his care. Currently, there are 28 cats and six dogs in his 575 sq. ft. flat — all of them rescued from the streets, some abandoned on unsafe roads in the middle of the night, some accident cases.
When accident cases come up at night, Patel, who works as an accountant with a private firm, is the go-to person. Hiring animal ambulances, he takes them to BSPCA, Parel. “Believe it or not, I sleep at 3 AM every day,” he says. “Initially, I foot the bills myself. An ambulance driver once said if this continues, I will be on the road soon,” He then started raising donations through crowdsourcing.
For the past six years, Patel has also been feeding around 80 dogs and 40 cats on the Western Express Highway — Mahakali Caves stretch, every night after his 11.5-hour job. “Sometimes I have been as late as 2 AM, but the dogs keep waiting. They know I will come,” he says. He has missed feeding them during that time only when he was sick with Malaria. For feeding, he has managed to find two regular donors.
It was the sight of a community dog eating from a child’s diaper that propelled him to start feeding the strays. Rescues triggered after an old community dog living in a building opposite his and “almost like its watchman” got paralyzed and suffered in front of his eyes. “She was the first dog I took to the hospital. In three weeks, she was able to stand on her legs.”