India's oldest and Asia’s largest all-animal shelter, the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC) was founded in 1980 from a legacy bequeathed by the late Mrs Ruth Cowell of New South Wales, Australia to Sanjay Gandhi.
A foundation set up in her memory, The Ruth Cowell Foundation, resolved to establish an animal care centre in Delhi that would serve as a prototype for other centres around India. The hospital-cum-shelter was envisaged as a 24x7 facility that would rescue, home, treat, and rehabilitate animals; serve as a training centre for vets and animal handlers; run an OPD; offer diagnostic services; provide burial facilities; and serve as a holding centre for animals of cruelty cases.
Inaugurated in September 1983, the SGACC is home to over 3000 animals at any given point. Spread over four acres of tree covered land in West Delhi’s Raja Garden, between Shivaji College and the Home Guards' HQ, it assures space in a secure natural environment for animals and birds. SGACC is open 24/7 and runs a round-the-clock free animal ambulance service and helpline. Its busy OPD treats over 200 animals a day providing medical, diagnostic, surgical, and dental services. It is part of the city municipality's ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme wherein it sterilises and vaccinates street dogs. It works closely with the police to take in and care for animals confiscated in cruelty cases such as overloading and neglectful ownership. It organises a thrice weekly adoption stall at a shopping mall through which it has placed over 2000 Indian puppies in loving homes. Under the patronage of Maneka Gandhi, this pioneering facility named after her husband, Sanjay Gandhi, has thus flourished into a well-staffed, well-equipped, veterinary centre that is a boon for animals and their well wishers.
While the Chairperson, Maneka Gandhi, visits regularly and is actively involved, the day-to-day management is headed by the Hospital Director while veterinary services are supervised by the Medical Director. Each separate department has an administrative head.
SGACC believes that animals are people too. Like us, they too are entitled to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As the planet's most vulnerable inhabitants, they deserve our strongest support.
SGACC mission is to provide sick, wounded, and abandoned animals food, shelter, medication, kindness, safety, and care, for as long as they need it.
SGACC accepts all (any number, any type) animals that need help. It does not set a limit on the number of animals it is ready to house, nor does it euthanise animals on account of so-called constraints of space. While it is a no-kill shelter, it will and does euthanise animals that are in extreme pain and beyond recovery. It sees its job as not so much as to prolong life, but to curtail suffering. Recumbent animals with broken spines, cases where maggots have eaten into the brain, and any other instance where treatment would hurt more than help, are fit cases for euthanasia. SGACC does not believe in killing for food. It does not purchase meat, but obtains meat waste from hotels for consumption by its dogs, cats and birds of prey.
- To prevent cruelty and secure the welfare of animals throughout India. In the initial phase, the area of operation to be restricted to the Union Territory of Delhi.
- To alleviate animal suffering and instill a feeling of compassion in people so that they may realize their responsibility as humans to protect animals.
- To initiate, promote, and advance legislative and other measures, calculated to encourage kindness, discourage cruelty, and stimulate human sentiment towards the care and treatment of animals.
- To assist in the establishments of panjrapoles and sanctuaries to give shelter to birds and animals in sickness and old age.
- To synchronize its operations with other voluntary agencies and associations, including local bodies as well as the State and Central governments for the promotion of projects and programmes designed to curtail animal suffering.
- Sensitising owners to the needs of their animals which includes providing proper food, shelter, attention, and opportunity to exercise.
- Controlling the homeless animal population through sterilisation and an active adoption programme that promotes the virtues of Indian dogs as companion animals.
- Discouraging the breeding and buying of dogs.
- Raising awareness about the helpline and ambulance services so that sick and wounded animals may receive timely aid.
- Constant upgradation of veterinary skills and services.
- Improving efficiency to prevent loss, neglect, or ill-treatment of any SGACC housed animal.