Stories of dog bites are plenty. Everyone is scared of stray Indian dogs, which move in packs, or alone, across the roads of our country.
We often get to read news headlines such as these, 4-year-old boy critically hurt in dog attack; or Stray dogs target deer at Navegaon lake. This type of news makes us feel scared, especially about stray dogs that stay in our neighborhood.
I have often heard that dogs make great pets. And yet when it comes to choosing a breed for our home, we choose all foreign breeds, which may cost anything from INR3.5k to INR50K (Ref: Cost of a Puppy- India). And yet puppies of Indian Dogs come free, and yet live a live truly in the gutter for want of a home. Unkempt and hungry, these dogs breed many times in a lifetime, leading to a sizeable growth in their population, and yet many of the so-called dog lovers will turn their faces away from taking such loveable puppies to their homes.
Since the time my neighborhood bitch delivered six puppies, and I have been put into the role of a foster mother for these puppies three months back, I find myself thinking constantly of this paradox that exists in our country. On one had we have this huge problem of stray dogs creating trouble for citizens, and on the other hand there is this mindset that adopting a stray is not a particularly good idea, even for hardcore animal lovers.
These days I feel particularly empathetic for all those veterinary doctors, and NGOs, who are working so tireless to rehabilitate these vulnerable animals with food, shelter, and in some fortunate cases, a loving home.
Dogs have a right to live in the area where they are born, so says The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The act also states, ‘It shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.’ And yet the instances of pet owners abusing, neglecting, and then abandoning their pets are plenty, and dogs are no exception.
Clearly disregarding directives issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India, constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, these animal owners often behave in a perfectly selfish way, causing immense pain to the animals they once committed to take care of. Twitter is full of cries of help from people who have found abandoned dogs left on the streets by their owners, to die a sad death. If the pet dogs find such a fate, can there be anything better for a street dog, other than beating, shooing away, killing, poisoning, and deaths from shooting?
The Animal Welfare Board of India directive clearly states, ‘Therefore, you are directed not to remove the community dogs from the any place as it is illegal and violation of above said rules. This amounts to cruelty to animals as per PCA Act and is a punishable offence. However, it is suggested that you may take help of recognized NGOs (List of AWO’s in your state is available in the website http://www.awbi.org) conducting ABC Programme for taking up Sterilization and immunization of stray dogs in the place to manage their population and to implement the provisions of Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 in letter and spirit.’
We live in a strange time, where we spent huge amount of money to take home a puppy, only to abandon it years later, simply because he no longer suited our lifestyle. We never adopt a stray, as it is not snobbish enough to make it to our homes, and then spend loads on a sterilization programme, when the simple act of kindness, of taking care of a one soul at a time can solve the problem.
So next time you think of buying a puppy, what about adopting your friendly neighborhood stray dog?
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. — Ben Williams
I am writing this as a part of ISB IDiya for IndiChange, and if you are interested in donating, may be you can donate to Sonadi Charitable Trust, who conducts sterilisation of stray dogs in Delhi for free.