A video of a hapless dog being flung off a five-storeyed building in Chennai this week had millions of viewers across the nation gasp in horror.
Though the dog survived with a few broken bones, few were in the mood to show mercy to the perpetrators. Two people were identified as the culprits and arrested after an NGO announced a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh.
But the heartrending video has also highlighted increasing instances of cruelty to the animal otherwise considered man’s best friend.
To put things into perspective, dogs continue to melt hearts by virtue of being the preferred pet in a majority of homes. But out on the streets, there seemingly is no love lost between humans and their four-legged friends. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and Gandhinagar to Guwahati, tales of violence are mounting, for which both men and dogs could be blamed.
With an estimated 25 million stray dogs prowling public spaces and their population still growing, many appear to have run out of patience. That was certainly the case last month with a group of farmers in Kancheepuram, some 80 km from Chennai.
A pack of dogs had been feasting on their prized goats and one day, they got together to poison the dogs. The farmers then collected them in a heap and set them on fire. Locals say some of the dogs were still alive when set alight.
Please share and help us find this bastard pic.twitter.com/QE7jM3JvoD— Karthik Dhandapani (@iamkarthikd) July 4, 2016
“It is nothing but the worst form of cruelty against defenceless animals,” laments Sumathi Iyer, an animal rights activist based in Ghaziabad of Uttar Pradesh. But diametrically opposite views can also be increasingly heard, depending on personal experiences.
Ask the family of five-year-old Amir, who was mauled to death in April while playing in front of his house in Bareilly of Uttar Pradesh. He was the 10th child to be killed in such a dastardly fashion in the town in two years, and Amir’s relatives insist dogs are a scourge. The mood is equally hostile in many other cities and towns with reports of dog bites pouring in.
Many therefore find it reasonable to retaliate in the manner they deem fit. MK Shaji admitted to killing 130 dogs last year in Kerala by feeding them poised meat. In some neighbourhoods of the state, locals are also known to have announced rewards for doing away with the dogs.
Animal rights activists say stray dogs do not attack without reason, and often humans are the culprit. “We have allowed the dogs to over breed and now complain when they attack,” Dr S Chinni Krishna, vice-chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, says. “If we don’t check the rapid growth of dog population, more attacks will take place.”
But India’s record in sterilising strays remains abysmally poor. In Lucknow, for example, only 1,500 dogs were sterilised last year against a population of 60,000. Evidently, the authorities are yet to wake up to the menace that has come to bite.
|Number of cases registered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960|
|Source: Minister’s statement in Parliament|
(With inputs from Anupam Srivastava in Lucknow, Chandan Kumar in Bareilly and Abhishek Saha in Srinagar)