Sentient Creatures, Inc.
PO Box 765, Cathedral Station
New York, N.Y. 10025
Phone: 212-865-5998


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Sentient Creatures is a registered non-profit Animal Rescue Organization!
Chitra Besbroda, ACSW, AASECT

Chitra Besbroda is a Sri Lankan born Buddhist. Chitra's love for animals was learned in childhood from her parents who were nurturing and caring to their children and pets. She is a Fullbright Scholar to the U.S. and a practicing psychotherapist. She currently lives and works in Manhattan as a full-time social worker for the New York City Board of Education. She started her rescue work in Harlem in 1973 when she found Teddy, a neglected and abused German Shepherd. Her mission has not ended since that date.

Dubbed the "Angel of Harlem" by writers and supporters, this small yet resilient woman with indomitable courage and boundless energy still visits the junkyards of Harlem to provide food and good cheer to the remaining animals. When they hear her voice and footsteps, they greet her with leaps of joy and kisses. Chitra is the only source of nurturing for these abandoned animals who live in misery. On her feeding rounds, Chitra has been threatened and physically and verbally abused numerous times by the petulant people who cannot comprehend her type of kindness.

Since the beginning of her one woman crusade, Chitra has rescued 3,5000 animals. They have been spayed or neutered and placed in carefully picked homes. In 1994, Chitra founded SENTIENT CREATURE, INC., a non-profit animal charity. Chitra's dream of a lifetime finally came true when she opened her animal shelter in 1997 for Harlem's abused animals. The shelter has become a haven of love and peace for these animals. Many miracles have taken place in the 300 square foot shelter which is spotlessly clean, air conditioned and well ventilated.

Chitra's work with animals has received ample publicity and acclaim. She has been featured in over 100 written articles ranging from neighborhood publications to the New York Times and national magazines both her and abroad. She was awarded the "Heart of Gold" award by the Animal Medical Center and the "Unsung Hero" award by the Veterinary Medical Association. Duncan Moon of the Christian Science Monitor, wrote an article describing Chitra as the "patron saint of Harlem". Roger Caras, former president of the ASPCA, affectionately calls Chitra the "Mother Teresa for Animals". Her work has inspired many people to start small rescue groups across the country. In spite of all this, Chitra's humility is remarkable. She still patrols the dangerous alleys and back streets of Harlem looking for animals to feed and rescue.

Despite dangers, difficulties and hardships, Chitra's grim determination to save as many animals as possible in her lifetime will sustain her spirit.

Death of a Dream

The dream of Chitra Besbroda to have a shelter for these rescued animals became a reality on September 14th, 1997, when the cozy home-like shelter opened on the Upper West side of Manhatttan. We took in abused, abandoned and neglected animals who were often large, noisy, destructive and hard to handle. This was our challenge and we accepted it with dedication and pleasure. Knowing that our consistency in nurturing could result in finding near-perfect homes for these victims of man's depravity.

Within six months of occupancy, a lawsuit was filed to evict us. We fought a costly, time-consuming legal battle and won. But when our lease was up for renewal in Sept. 2000 we were ordered to vacate. There was no recourse.

To this day, that space has not been rented......we can all shed a quiet tear for the loss of that place, the sanctuary of love and peace for many a trouble junkyard dog...

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Chitra Besbroda