In April 1995, Clementien Pauws, (M.A.Philosophy) settled in Puttaparthi with her husband and son following a number of visits to the Abode of Peace of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. She witnessed poor conditions and illnesses connected with the stray animals of the area, particularly dogs and donkeys, and became concerned.
In 1996, Clementien began collecting injured and sick animals and took them into her home, which became the first clinic. Animals received treatment, food and sanctuary from the harsh environment of the streets. Clementien adapted her previous experience with equines and her qualifications in equine training, health care and management to deal with smaller breeds, particularly dogs, as there were so many in the area requiring care.
With the help and support of Sai devotees from the U.K. and other countries, the “Animal Rescue Project, Puttaparthi” clinic was opened in Puttaparthi on 23rd August 1998. It was established as a branch of CUPA Bangalore.
There were many founding supporters whose contributions were invaluable.
The new clinic’s first assistants were Narashima and his wife Gangamma. They cooked and cleaned and nursed the animals. After a few months, the service of Narendra Reddy, an animal lover, teacher and local farmer, was added. Narendra became the primary assistant for all local and animal problems. Mr. N. Ahmed Khan, owner of a travel agency and car rental in Puttaparthi, joined hands with the Animal Rescue Project by providing transportation of sick animals that needed treatment in Bangalore.
The competence and quality of care offered by the clinic became more widely known. Visitors to the area and foreign residents were encouraged to take part in supporting the work. Animals in the town suffering from illness or neglect were reported more regularly as knowledge of the clinic spread. The clinic’s ability to give effective treatment to a variety of animals continued to attract many people from the surrounding villages who came for advice and medical for treatment.
In July 2000, it became clear to Clementien that an independent organization needed to be established in Puttaparthi. One dedicated to not only dealing with Animal Welfare but also with nature, the promotion of vegetarianism, veganism, organic farming and wildlife protection. In consultation with the other members of the management team of Animal Rescue Project, the vision of the “Karuna Society for Animals and Nature” was born.
In the mean time, Mrs. Romula D’Silva and her husband, employed in Dubai (UAE), were guided by Bhaghavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in 1997, to purchase a 5 acre plot of land near Puttaparthi to be developed as a shelter for animals.
Around 1998 Clementien and Romula met and remained in contact.
Karuna Society for Animals and Nature, also known as “Karuna Society” and “Karuna”, was registered on 18 September 2000, with Clementien as President, Romula Vice President, Narendra Reddy Secretary and with P. Narasimha and N.Ahmed Khan as board members.
In 2007 Romula returned to India permanently to set up home in Puttaparthi and to be involved full time with Karuna’s activities.
Over the years, with the help of a dedicated team of workers and the support of well-wishers, the organization has grown from the rescue and care of small animals to include the care of large animals, organic farming, and wildlife protection.