Imagine being voiceless, hungry and shooed away with stones or kicks. Unfortunately this is the plight of most of the street dogs in India. The Indian street dog has become that one animal which nobody wants, and is often hated to the extent that they suffer cruelty almost every day.
Last week, the SPCA shelter in Noida, received an SOS call to rescue a stray dog, who was attacked with acid. The pictures of the dog are too gory, to be published, with melted skin infested with maggots. From throwing a dog from the rooftop to tying them behind a motorcycle and to be dragged through the highway, the cases of abuse are increasing tenfold.
“I have a case of a month and a half old stray puppy that was thrown from the roof of a building by an 8-year-old boy. He didn’t stop at that. He went downstairs to pick it up and throw it again from the first floor. The puppy obviously didn’t survive and when the boy’s parents were counseled, their response was, ”Jaanwar hi to hai” (It’s just an animal),” says animal rights activist Aaditi Badam of Posh Foundation.
Badam adds, “The reason for the increase in such cases is the weak animal protection laws. People get away by just paying a fine of Rs 50. They need to make these laws strict, so that people fear it and don’t think they can get away by torturing the animal.”
Caretakers of stray dogs, who feed them also face the wrath of Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) on a regular basis. The RWA, however, in their defence say that the stray dogs pose a threat as they often maul and bite people.
“I have to fight everyday to just feed the strays in my colony. I have a designated feeding spot for them and have built wooden kennels for shelter and kept steel bowls for them. These are cleaned everyday by my help,” says Divya Puri, who rescues and feeds stray dogs. “Still I have some people saying that I have spoil the beauty of the place for just a ’jaanwar’. If they think dogs don’t have feelings then they are wrong. One of the strays in my locality had stopped eating after her puppies were stolen one night. She would just howl and keep taking me to the spot, where they were picked up from,” adds Puri.
“People need to be educated and sensitised about stray dogs and need to be told that they aren’t a menace,” says Puri.
Badam also says, “Hostile attitude of RWAs is one challenge that most of the people who feed dogs face.” But what people don’t realise is that if you designate a feeding place for the stray dogs in your area, and feed them, then incidents of dog bites will reduce.
“We have done this in two apartments in Indirapuram when feeding of stray dogs was causing angst among some of the residents. We got together, and sterilised the dogs. The dogs now don’t roam anywhere inside the apartment compound. But torturing them is just not the way to deal with the situation,” says Badam.
The misery just doesn’t end here as animal welfare workers confess that it is the most difficult task to get an Indie dog adopted. “Most people do not want to adopt them. It is the most difficult task to find a home for one especially if it’s not typically cute. Once a puppy gets adopted, we are always worried that they will be sent back to the shelter,” says Gina Malkani, animal rights activist, informing that August 21 will mark a worldwide movement against animal abuse in the form of various events, across India.