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Paws and think

An increasing number of pets in Mumbai are being abandoned by their owners, and most of them are pedigreed dogs.

entertainment Updated: Nov 22, 2010 14:54 IST
Lina Choudhury-Mahajan

Oscar, a Labrador was given up by his owner in Indore. He was brought to In Defence of Animals (IDA), in Deonar, Mumbai by Fiza Shah, IDA’s president. Vets at the centre discovered that he was obese and suffering from diabetes. He had to be given insulin everyday, until he suddenly collapsed and passed away.



Oscar is one of the many pedigreed dogs who are abandoned by their owners — a trend that is sadly on the rise in Mumbai. "More and more of these dogs are being abandoned by their owners. We have between 60 to 65 dogs in our ‘Ownerless Animal’ enclosure," says Lt Col J C Khanna, Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).



DogOther shelters like the Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) in Mahalaxmi has had over 300 abandoned dogs in the last four years, while IDA get about 30 to 40 abandoned dogs a year. "The number of pedigrees being abandoned has definitely increased and how. Earlier, it was mainly Pomeranians but now you get all kinds of breeds," says an IDA spokesperson.



Ironically, the pedigree dog is the kind many wannabe dog owners in Mumbai vie to have. "It’s when they realise that the dog has to be toilet-trained, walked, fed and cleaned that they start regretting their decision. Of course, these are things which one should take for granted when adopting a dog but it’s not always the case," says Abodh Aras, CEO of WSD. Col. Khanna holds people who give pets as gifts, responsible. "The puppy looks very sweet but when it grows into a large animal, the owner is not prepared to handle it," he says.

Aras says that people give all kinds of irresponsible reasons for abandonment, from ‘I thought I could handle the dog..’ to ‘I’m moving abroad’ and ‘our house is too small’. Most people also don’t realise that maintaining a pedigree costs between Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 a month. “These are foreign dogs, not used to our climate and if they are large they need lots of exercise and space, which is not feasible in Bombay,” says Col. Khanna, adding that many owners bring sick dogs to the SPCA and leave bogus names and addresses. “When we try and contact them, we find that we cannot trace the owner,” says Col. Khanna.

Activists say that illegal breeding is another reason that so many pedigrees are abandoned. “Due to unlicensed breeding many dogs end up with genetic defects. When they show signs of sickness, callous owners abandon them,” says the IDA official. However, the good news is that the government is now putting measures into place to ensure that breeding does not go unchecked.

While most shelters try to get these dogs re-homed, it’s not always easy. “Like Oscar, we have had many abandoned dogs who did not make it. Most people want puppies,” says the IDA official. Many of these dogs also pine away and die. “We had a Pom who refused to eat. We tested him for everything and found that nothing was wrong. He was just pining for his owners. Finally, he passed away,” recalls Aras.

But there are many advantages to adopting grown-up dogs. “They are already toilet-trained and have been taught some behaviour,” says Aras. Of course, adopting such a dog depends on its behaviour and whether the prospective owner gels with the dog. Shelters keep a record of all re-homed dogs and provide owners with literature on being responsible towards their pets.

You can be punished!
A person can be imprisoned or fined for abandoning an animal under Chapter 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act 1960 Sec 11, sub-section (1)(i) which states that ‘without any reasonable cause abandons of any animal in circumstances which renders it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation of thirst punishable by imprisonment and a fine.’

The Animal Welfare Board of India’s Draft Dog Breeding Rules, 2010 include strict licensing rules, monitoring of breeders, and not allowing breeders to breed more than one kind of dog, among many other strict regulations.

Want to adopt?
SPCA: 24135434/24137518
IDA: 9320056587 /www.idaindia.org
WSD: 64222838/ www.wsdadoptions.
blogspot.com

What to remember before you adopt a dog:
A dog has a 10-15 year lifespan. Think about what your plans for those years might include and only then go ahead and adopt.
Do you have the time and patience that it takes to keep a dog?
If you want to gift a dog lover, gift a donation to a dog charity in their name.
If you are adopting a big breed/pedigree, it may require a lot of money to maintain.
If you have other pets, keep in mind that they may not get along with the new dog.
Does everyone in your family want a dog?
Is anyone allergic to an animal? Get a friend's dog over the weekend to find out.
Dogs need exercise at least three times a day for physical and mental stimulation and socialising.
If you take on a puppy, be prepared for some damage in the house until it has learnt to be clean and behave.
Are you out all day? Do you travel a lot? Have erratic working hours? Who will take care of the dog?
Dogs like people grow old and may need special care and medication.