As we walk the streets of India, we realise that we’re not alone. No, I’m not talking about being chased by an invisible force, I am talking about STRAY DOGS! Being a dog-lover is very different from being calm when you encounter a canine situation. Imagine this: You’re walking down a road and a dog just stares at you, starts barking ferociously and then starts chasing you! Are you sweating already? Now, also imagine, being cold on a winter night, having to dig up garbage cans for food, being scared of speeding vehicles, lying dehydrated on the road, being looked at with disgust every day, having stones thrown at, being painted in Holi gulaal (colour) and having no place to call your home! THAT is the life of a stray dog!!!
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 35 million stray dogs live in India. The country faces about 20,000 cases of rabies every year. According to the WHO report, about 36% of the world’s deaths from rabies happen in India itself.
Killing them is not a solution
In November 2015, the Supreme Court asked all states and union territories to follow central rules, which ban killing stray dogs in India. The Court ruled that only “irretrievably ill or mortally wounded” stray dogs can be eliminated, which should happen in a “humane manner.”
Animal birth control
Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 state, “The street dogs shall be sterilized and immunized by the participation of animal welfare organizations, private individuals and the local authority.” Sterilisation is a routine surgery that prevents overpopulation at the source: sterilising one female dog can prevent 67,000 births in six years. Sterilised and rabies-vaccinated dogs who have been returned to where they were found no longer feel such a strong instinct to fight with each other to mate or protect their offspring and are less prone to getting into disputes over territory.
Experts estimate that barely 10 per cent of India’s dogs have been sterilised and immunised out of a possible 60 million. Since the ABC rules were passed by the Ministry of Culture, it is a moot point whether the ministry had the authority in the first place to pass laws on a subject which it lacked domain knowledge. The ABC offers no scientific method for a systematic vaccination drive and stabilising the country’s canine population.
India has by far the highest number of rabies cases in the world (around 33 per cent)
Who is scarier, dogs or humans?
God’s own country, Kerala, recorded more than one Lakh incidents of dog bites in 2015. The very next year, a series of horrendous dog bites urged residents to hire dog-catchers and poachers. There were communities who would hire a dog-poacher and kill the dogs in cold blood. While there have been frightening incidents of children being mauled by stray dogs to the extent of blindness and loss of eyesight, it is to be understood that killing dogs and then parading with the carcasses is heinous and inhuman. Sources from Kerala revealed that gruesome public outrage against stray dogs has grown larger. To the extent of electing candidates who resolved to eradicate stray dogs. Hoardings and billboards of stray dogs shown as villainous creatures were catching the public eye. Hundreds of dogs were eliminated.
Sterilisation: the solution
Effective and efficient mass sterilisation is a boon for both society and stray dogs. It is better to sterilise a dog than to kill its entire family. As explained by the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Animal Birth Control (ABC) process begins with catching the dog/ bitch and giving them anti-tick medication. The dog is observed overnight and prepared for surgery that was conducted the next day. During the surgery, while the dog is still under the effect of anaesthesia, its right ear is notched for future identification.
A special post-surgery kennel is provided and administered with the necessary medication. After 4 days from the day of surgery, it is given Anti- Rabies vaccination. The dog is kept in the shelter for 5 to 6 days and a bitch for about 7 days till they recover completely. The animal was then released into its own territory from where it had been picked up. PAWS takes on the responsibility of conducting regular check-ups of animals thus being released.
NDMC said, in financial year 2018-19, as many as 27,804 dogs were caught and sterilised. In the same period, 235 monkeys and 1,941 stray cattle were caught.
In 2017-18, as many as 21,438 dogs, 1,681 stray cattle and 418 monkeys were caught, and in 2016-17 as many as 9,866 dogs, 4,373 stray cattle and 68 monkeys were caught, it said.
Organisations and initiatives that care
Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is a non–government, non – profitable, registered animal welfare organization working for the prevention of cruelty towards animals and a better environment for mankind. PAWS is recognized by Animal Welfare Board of India which is a govt. body.
PAWS came into existence in 1998 and started working the very same day. The purpose of the society is to make people aware about the care, management and nutrition of pet and stray animals. For PAWS all animals on this planet are the pets of the society and hence we need to realize their importance in our everyday life and do our bit in exchange.
PAWS conducts regular awareness programs in and around Delhi besides its anti-rabies camps for strays. The society is doing its bit to help eradicate rabies and control the stray population by immunization and undertaking the ABC (Animal Birth Control) Program.
Delhi the Street Dog Foundation
Delhi the Street Dog Foundation was established in 2018 to address and combat the overwhelming stray street dog population in India. The Founder, Jessica Haltzman, was navigating a soul searching, solo-backpacking trip in New Delhi, India in 2017. While she was only hoping for a greater sense of self in her return home, she managed to not only find herself and her passion, but her forever best friend, Delhi the Street Dog.
Delhi the Street Dog Foundation provides safe passage and forever homes for Indian Street Dogs. By raising funds and by partnering with animal rescue organizations, Delhi the Street Dog Foundation covers transportation costs to street dogs from India to the United States where they can receive appropriate and safe care – and build an inseparable bond with their new family and community.
You can contact the organisation here: https://www.delhithestreetdogfoundation.org/contact
Selfless Diya’s “Better Batter Bakes”
Diya Singh, a 10th grader from the Shri Ram School in Aravali, is turning heads with her dog-friendly initiative. Passion at any age is appreciated, and especially when the youth takes the lead for a good cause, fearlessly! Diya runs an initiative called “Better Batter Bakes” through which she helps numerous homeless dogs.
Speaking to The Wonk, the visionary schoolgirl said: “Throughout my childhood, my heart has gone out to animals and the way they need to fend for themselves, so I thought I should do something for them. I started the initiative “Better Batter Bakes” to use my passion for baking to help dogs. It aims to provide food to the street and orphaned dogs, I do this by selling home-baked goods like brownies and gluten-free ice cream. From the funds that are collected, I buy dog food and donate it to animal shelters like the Karma Animal Foundation.”
Feeling motivated? What’s your excuse?
Diya revealed that she started off by reaching out to the dogs around her colony, as the initiative grew its reach did too. Over time she has sold more than a staggering 800 boxes of brownies, supporting many dogs with food.
Meticulous rescuer: Anupam Mehta
Anupam Mehta, a common resident from Noida, has truly been an angel for stray dogs. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, he has been running a campaign where he feeds 100-150 stray animals daily. Everyday he spends 3-4 hours providing food and aid to whom he refers as ‘these beautiful creatures’. He ensures proper checkups and medical care for his furry friends. Anupam Mehta’s #FeedTheStrays campaign is a boon for strays during this especially unfortunate situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many stray dogs unattended and starving.
Speaking to The Wonk, he said: “I’ll do whatever I can to help them. My agenda is to ensure that every stray receives proper meals and that none should go hungry. In this journey, I’ve faced lots of problems, opposition but I’ve strived and fought everyone. However, to ensure that every stray is assisted, I’ll require more help for my initiative and currently I’m facing difficulties to ensure that.”
by Kunjan Ahluwalia