Our History

About the Trust

Janice’s Trust is a small but vital animal rescue service, treatment centre and shelter in Panchgani, India. We are a registered Charitable Trust, whose formal name is the Janice Smith Animal Welfare Trust.

Janice’s Trust is also the Panchgani Unit of People For Animals, presided over by Smt. Maneka Gandhi, the Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development in the current government.

About Janice Smith

Janice Smith, a woman of Irish origin resided at ‘Goldmohur Villa’, Panchgani. She was a teacher at St. Joseph Convent School. Her family was amongst those few that did not leave India after India became independent in 1947

Her mother was a teacher at St. Peter School and her father was an officer in the British army during the Second World War. He passed away when Janice was a child.

Baby Janice cared for and treated animals in the area long before the animal welfare movement in India took wings. All her life Janice cared for and rescued helpless and troubled animals on her two acre property which had been turned into an animal shelter.

She never married, her animals were her family. She did not like to take help from anybody but was supported by a group of local close friends and animal lovers in times of need.

Her Lone Battle

She housed over 100 animals who were almost all rescued. The animals in Janice’s shelter, included a blind horse, two goats (one of which was mauled by street dogs while it was a baby, awaiting its death at the hands of a butcher), two bulls, two cows, a calf and 52 dogs and 36 cats that had found security, love and nourishment under her care. She also treated and fed animals in the region.

People would come from far off places to get animals treated or homed with her. It was not an uncommon sight to see her sprite figure in the Panchgani byways, sometimes in shirt and jeans or else in salwar-kurta, feeding the strays or raising her low-pitched voice at an erring horse owner! She spent her entire earnings to feed and care for animals. Her resources were not abundant but somehow she managed to run the shelter even sometimes by selling small pieces of land.

Janice was a public figure. She has been a recipient of many awards. Actor and TV anchor Seema Rahmani, who hosts the popular animal show HeavyPetting, recalled interviewing Janice in 2008. “I asked why she chose to stay back in India after retirement though all her relatives were abroad. She replied: “Dil hai Hindustani!”

Farrokh Bulsara, who later became famous as ‘Freddie Mercury’ was a childhood friend of Janice. Her description of Freddie Mercury as a schoolboy form part of the book ‘Freddie Mercury – The Definitive Biography’ by Lesley-Ann Jones, though the book refers to her as Janet Smith.

Her Final Years

In the later years she had many ailments including varicose veins. She had this infection on her foot which refused to heal. It was the continuous proximity to so many different animals that sustained whatever infection it was on her foot. Nevertheless, she would make her daily trek to the bazaar and back, limping all the way, to buy food for all the animals that had come under her care.

Janice Smith overlooked herself and endlessly cared for her animals at her shelter till her very last breath. On March 17, 2010, Janice Smith passed away due to health complications.

During her lifetime, she always expressed her wish to establish an animal welfare trust in her property to ensure systematic care for such animals. Her untimely death unfortunately, left her wish incomplete.

Janice’s Legacy Lives On 

After her death, we, the friends of Janice Smith have volunteered to look after the animals she left behind. We brought together animal welfare organizations and local animal lovers, under one roof – that of Janice Smith’s shelter. Her dogs and cats were de-wormed, vaccinated and neutered. The blind horse, the two bulls and a cow, whose health conditions were deteriorating, were moved to the nearest Blue Cross shelter where they are now well looked after.

In a rare case of commitment and passion for the orphaned animals the town became the caretaker. Volunteers took care of the animals in the best possible way, all out of their own expenses. And this is how the Janice Smith Animal Welfare Trust (JSAWT) was formed. Janice’s Trust is also the Panchgani Unit of People For Animals, presided over by Smt. Maneka Gandhi, the Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development in the current government.

In 2015, the Janice Smith Animal Welfare Trust was given a new image and makeover and is now known as Janice’s Trust, although the official name for the Trust remains as JSAWT.