The Telegraph
Friday , March 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999

Caring for canines

Tapan Roy, alias Methuda, is contacted by people in Howrah and Calcutta when they have a problem with dogs. Be it their pet dog or a mongrel in the neighbourhood, Methuda is more than willing to extend a helping hand, even in the dead of night. Tapan’s love for animals knows no bounds and his affection is known to stray dogs across central Howrah and other parts of the town. They are familiar with the sound of his footsteps and become alert when they see Roy coming.

The man gives shelter, particularly to ailing and injured dogs or to those who have been abandoned. In the past 22 years, Tapan has had some bizarre experiences while working with strays. At present some 5,500 dogs across Netaji Subhas Road, Kalibabur Bazar, Kali Kundu Lane, Panchanantala Road, Kadamtala and adjoining areas are his pets. His old house is on Narasingha Dutta Road where five strays completely depend on Tapan for survival. “When I started, there were 10 of them, now there are just five,” said Tapan.

Methuda fell in love with animals only by chance. It happened on a trip to Tarapith in 1991. “Three stray dogs at Sadhak Bamakhyapa’s temple would follow me all the time. I gave them biscuits and they followed me to the lodge where I stayed,” said Tapan. After returning, Tapan felt the same affection for the dogs in his area and would feed them biscuits. This bond led Tapan to become a popular dog-lover.

An employee of the engineering and electrical department of Howrah Improvement Trust (HIT), Tapan spends a sizeable part of his income on feeding and looking after his five pet stray dogs, namely — Sada Sukumar, Sambhu, Nemai, Budo and a female Jhakjhaki. “I buy biscuits worth Rs 100 everyday for them,” said Tapan. Their lunch comprises rice and fish or mutton. Then there are medicines when they fall ill. “Although I look after the five directly, I always look out for the others when I pass by their areas. Some are injured, others are not well fed. I request the local people to give them food, but not everyone obliges,” said Tapan.

He is not a doctor, but being a regular visitor to the animal hospital, Tapan has learnt to administer medicines and treat injuries of dogs. Tapan is also associated with NGOs that work with dogs. Sushmita Roy of Love and Care in Behala, seeks Methuda’s help in times of rescue or in critical cases. He is an active member of Priyajan, the animal-activist group in Howrah, headed by Gouri Basu.

More about tapan

  • DoB: October 10, 1954
  • Born in: Howrah
  • Education: Class VIII
  • Family: Wife, two sons, daughter-in-law
  • Loves: Animals
  • Hates: Torture on animals