The Impersonal Treatment Of Our Dogs…
Phew! A year has passed by. I know most of you guys are just settling in, deciding on the new year resolutions that you will probably end up not keeping (me too) or just trying to adjust into the normal affair of things. Now, around the same time of this month last year, I was taking a walk along the roads of Green Park in New Delhi, which is one of the poshest localities of our capital state, at the wee hours of the morning.
Actually, it was my New Year resolution back then – I had promised myself to take morning walks to lose the extra bit of flab and be healthier. At that time I had noticed something strange. There were a lot of dogs on leashes all around the park. Now you might be asking me what’s wrong with people taking out the dogs for a walk in the morning. That couldn’t be the oddest thing in the entire universe, right? Well, it was because these were not the usual breeds of dogs that I had seen on the roads and the people, who were walking them, were not actually owners but household helps.
Huskies, St. Bernard, Shar Pei, Samoyed, Shih Tzu, Wheaten Terrier, Lhasa Apso and a few other breeds that were, to put mildly across, quite exotic. This was quite odd because these are the dogs you don’t usually get to see in India because they simply just can’t tolerate the hot Indian climate and to find them in Delhi, which gets scorching during the summers, was a little bit hard for me to digest.
I have always been a dog-lover and, somewhere, at the back of my mind, it struck me as quite out of the place. So I ended up chatting with a nice household help, who had come to walk a six-month-old husky at the park. The conversation started with the name of the dog, some small talk and then I came across some nuggets of information, which were interesting, to say the least.
The Exotic Dog Lover So To Speak Of…
The owner of the dog lives in the locality and had bought the dog recently from a breeder; a guy that comes in once a month to check up on the dog. When the dog is at home he’s tied up in front of the gate because the owner’s wife is scared of him. The dog’s coat looked kind of ragged and it was panting even in the cold weather of Delhi’s winter and the other dogs that were out there were not doing any better.
Being a dog owner myself (my Labrador passed away a few months back) I could see some telltale signs that these dogs were not at the best of their health; most of them either had a dry nose, a snarky demeanour, cloudy eyes or all of them.
I came back home, but that incident stayed in mind. While speaking to my friends, I casually dropped the incident and, surprisingly, all of them said that they had noticed it not only in Delhi but also back at their homes (different cities).
There was a sudden rise in the number of exotic dogs; dogs that were not at all accustomed with the Indian climate, but were being kept in the households of the nouveau riche or the people who have recently acquired wealth.
On Sale Of Breeds…
One of my friends pointed me to Quikr and OLX asking me to check the pets section. I was in for quite a shock. There were dogs, present in these websites for sale, which would suffer terribly if they would ever land up in Indian climate. One listing read a huge list,
“Siberian husky 45000rs American Pitbull 35000rs American bully 45000rs Saint Bernard 24000rs Great Dane 24000rs Boxer 18000rs Huge size, big muzzle n paws Heavy built n smooth bone n coat with markings colour red n , black n , grey n with or blue eyes All puppies are active n healthy playful Vet checked n vaccine deworming done We deal in puppies Boxer Doberman Rottweiler Labrador, Lhasa Pug Shih tzu cocker spaniel Beagle Golden retriever German Shepher Great Dane Saint bernard Siberian husky Mastiff breed, Shihtzu English Mastiff, Bull Mastiff, Neopolitan Mastiff, Tibetan Mastiff, French Mastiff, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, rottweiler, Dalmatian, Dachshund, ,Siberian husky, Grey Hound, Spitz, Pomeranian, Culture Pom, chihuahua, Poodle, Maltese, French Bulldogs, Yorkshire terrier” and so on..
Now, I have no idea if you have seen a Tibetan Mastiff or not, but the name should give you an idea where they come from – the extreme cold weather of Tibet. These dogs landing up in India is nothing but a death sentence for these poor souls.
However, as the story unfolded, I discovered that this phenomenon was not limited to the metropolitan cities. People were buying exotic dogs and this is giving birth to backyard breeders, people who bring dogs into the country, mate them forcefully to supply to this demand of showing off.
Discussions Of How Dogs Are Treated…
I had a word with Pallavi U Dar, who works tirelessly to relocate pets that have been left out in the open streets by these owners after few months because they become too much for them to handle or the novelty gets worn off. Sometimes, the owners beat the dogs, make them severely injured and leave them on the streets to die. A lot of times, they don’t provide enough food and nutrition for them. What Pallave told me was quite heartbreaking.
“Dogs are kept in cages in filthy conditions. Females are forced to breed every season and are abandoned once their life has been milked out of them. Pups are separated from their mothers when they are barely 30 days old and suffer medically and emotionally from not spending enough time with their mothers,” she said.
Some of the owners who didn’t want their names printed said that they kept these dogs in air-conditioned rooms to mimic the climate of the places that they are accustomed to.
The Breed Vs Location Conundrum…
However, Pallavi strongly disagrees with the notion; she says,
“Mountain breeds are not suited to the plains at all. Even if you were to keep them in an air-conditioned room 24/7, it would, in reality, still be a 5-star jail. The St Bernard’s natural habitats are the Western Alps in Switzerland and Italy.”
And even if they are kept in such conditions what follows afterwards is perhaps inhumane. An AC room jail for seven months and once they develop problems, they are abandoned in the streets, only to breathe their last. It’s the kind of misery that, maybe, you don’t even want your enemies to suffer from!
“We deal with abandoned dogs EVERYDAY. We hear of dogs tied to park railings, thrown out of cars in isolated places, left at shelters, abandoned far away from their own territories,” said Pallavi.
Where Do Our Laws Stand At…
Most of the NGOs who are dedicated to fighting this cruelty, sometimes end up fighting a lost battle because the Indian laws for animal cruelty are quite flimsy. Also, it’s not very easy to prevent cruelty. So, even if they want to act on something wrong, they can’t, as…
“Pets are treated like ‘inanimate beings’ and like ‘private property’ and you can’t really barge into someone’s home if they are ill-treating their dog; if you do, you can be charged for trespassing. You can’t just confiscate a dog that is being ill-treated, you can be charged for stealing. Also, the penalty for cruelty is laughable (Prevention of cruelty to animals act 1960.)”
Most of the times, the police also gives these incidents a wide pass because there isn’t much to be done except slap a fine or a warning. Over the course of last year, I lost quite a number of friends. Friends, who wanted to buy a dog to show off or because they found a certain social media picture of dogs being dressed amazingly funny or the ones that live in a 1BHK apartment and wanted to buy a Siberian Husky for some social media validation.
Now that the year has ended, I think I have kept my last year’s resolution perfectly. I did lose some unnecessary flab from my life and very honestly I feel quite healthy knowing that I don’t have anyone in my vicinity, who takes part in the vicious cycle of cruelty.