Street dogs. Stray dogs. Mutts. Some regard them as ‘nuisance’ too! “Dirty, infectious, filthy, rabid roadside creatures that are just waiting for an opportunity to pounce and bite and maul innocent humans!” “They deserve to be culled!” Let alone even thinking about how to help the stray dogs, the above are a few of the things, the majority of people in India and other ‘developing’ countries opine about man’s best friend, dogs.
The reason being nothing but myths, stereotypes, superstitions and lack of awareness. People are fed the idea by their parents and grandparents and great grandparents who have never had a single interaction with a dog in their lives. That dogs are born to bite, their presence is inauspicious, dogs must be deserted and their population must be controlled by inhumane culling! Yes! They can very well be cruelly tortured because well, they’re just dogs! Children grow up seeing their family mistreating them and follow their examples and the process goes on and on for generations. These things are so deeply rooted in them that they never learn to think for themselves, and even if they do feel a different way, societal pressure outweighs their little guilt, if any.
THE HEART-WRENCHING PLIGHT OF THE STRAYS
Yes, the stray dogs are unsightly. They have germs about them too. But aren’t the reasons behind their state worthy of probing further?
They can be as good as the ‘pedigree dogs‘ that are bought for heavy amounts. Yes, they can have great plump, shapely bodies, with softer than cotton and shinier than silk coats. But that would require someone taking a good amount of care of them. They aren’t lucky like their counterparts. They have no one to feed them nutritious meals, take them for regular vaccinations to keep diseases at bay, or make instant vet appointments in case there arises a slight hint of illness. Nobody cares to bathe them, or brush their coats to keep them healthy, dirt and knot free.
Their nutrition consists of bits of stale and rotten, discarded food from dustbins and dump yards, that too only if they’re lucky enough to find some. They scavenge the whole day to find bits of spoiled and infected scraps and survive on the dirty water from puddles and drains. Many a times they go without food and water for days too! Such is their plight.
If they catch an infection, or get wounded, they have no other option but to suffer and depend on sheer luck to get better by themselves, if the case is not that severe. If it is, they lie in agony and suffer until they die. Nobody spares a thought on trying to help the poor stray dogs, or even cares until their decomposing bodies emit foul smells, which make people staying nearby complain to the authorities, who send people from municipalities to come and pick up their carcasses, and toss them afar as garbage! THIS is the life of strays..
THE OTHER ICINGS ON THE CAKE OF THEIR MISERY
They’re tortured in innumerable ways and constantly live in fear. Retarded people who are basically sore losers, channelize their personal frustrations on these already suffering creatures. Why? Because they just want to inflict harm to relieve themselves and they cannot do this to people as that involves a harsher reaction, plus men are protected by law and they don’t want to land up in trouble. But animals are an ‘easy target’, specially dogs, because they’re the most easily available ones as compared to other strays (cats, cows, goats, pigs, you name it).
Beating them brutally, setting little puppies on fire, hitting them with firecrackers, tossing them from heights, dragging them tied to ropes on bikes, raping, locking them in places to starve and so much more is an everyday news. All because some humans feel that they’re worthless animals who aren’t useful to them, and thus they deserve to suffer at the hands of the almighty humans. Also probably to prove their dominance, or to inflate their perverted egos, or may be just because they’re bored and seek some adventure! I cannot probe any deeper into their sick psychology.
What further strengthens their perversion is the attitude of the government. Maybe because these animals don’t cast votes and pay taxes, their lives just don’t matter. So why even bother help the ‘useless’ stray dogs? Out of the millions of cases of cruelty, very few end up even getting reported. Even if they do, the administration is always busy with ‘more important cases’. In case the case is lodged, and the complainant is resilient to all the hassles that follow for months and years, the justice is not just extremely delayed but also insufficient to say the least! And this is exactly why people get the audacity to commit these heinous crimes in broad daylight, because they know how easy it is to get away with.
LET’S NOT KEEP
CALM MUM ANYMORE!
Unfortunately, our government does not recognize the need to make efforts to give them even the basic requisites of life. Our laws are faulty and severely inadequate. The punishments rewarded to animal abusers, if any, are basically a joke. The penalty involves a meager fine and that is all. Though a few laws (for the protection of animal rights) exist on paper, seldom are they implemented fiercely that could bring forward some change by instilling the necessary fear.
But it is not just the government’s fault. The citizens are at fault equally. The constitution of India was enacted in the year 1950, which is 69 long years ago. Crafted and suited for that time, hence whatever laws exist today was as per the requirements then. But today, the scenario is totally different. And there needs to be a lot of amendments in this section. But because animal abuse is not taken seriously, very few cases end up getting reported even. Hence the urgency is not documented and we cannot expect the government to care otherwise. If something is not working for us, it is us who have to create the sense of urgency before the government, so they feel pressurized to make the necessary amendments based on an upsurged public demand.
For instance section 377 of the Indian Constitution has just been amended few months back. It was a 157 years old law that criminalized “sexual activities against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”. The current amendment has struck down the part containing ‘man and woman’ from the quote, thus legalizing homosexuality. However the part containing ‘animals’ remains untouched. Bestiality (which is the term for humans having intercourse with animals) is still a crime.
Now, why I mentioned this is because I wanted to emphasize on the power of public pressure, that lead to the government making these changes. This is the power vested with the citizens of a democracy like India. If we feel something is not as per the current requirements of ever-changing time, it is us who need to unite and bring about the change. So coming back to the point, animal rights laws are severely deficient in India, but we can still mark the change. We need to understand that man’s best friend deserves a better treatment at the hands of man. Animal abuse has to be taken seriously beginning from the grass-root level, which is us.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO, TO HELP THE STRAY DOGS BEING ABUSED
We have happened to witness them being abused in our everyday lives in various ways, some subtle, some scary. There are people who don’t give a damn. Also, there are people who feel sorry and want to help the wronged stray dogs. But because they don’t know what to do about it, they choose to keep mum and walk past with resentment. There are laws that exist in India, but what’s lacking is the awareness among the citizens.
So the next time you witness a dog being mistreated or abused, please don’t stay mum, make a huge deal of it!
- Scream and gather masses, draw the attention of the passers by so the offender feels startled and threatened, giving the poor abused dog an opportunity to flee.
- If he is injured and is not able to make it, help him out, either take him to a veterinary doctor nearby or contact the local NGO that works for animals.
- An added plus would be if you can shoot a video or take pictures of the offender and save them for proof.
- Lodge an FIR at the nearest police station. It may happen that the Police might not take the issue seriously and decline your request of the First Information Report. In such a case, politely yet firmly, tell them that it matters and this is a cognizable offense, which means that on receiving a complaint of this kind, the Police is bound to register an FIR. (Don’t freak out at the mention of the Police, they are there to help us, it is their duty. And we need to help them too, by not getting unnecessarily scared and letting them know everything we know, to proceed with the case. And an FIR may sound scary or complicated, but it is just a record in the form of an essay/letter with the detailed account of the wrongful incidence that happened.) You can just tell the officer everything you saw and he will do all the writing, which you need to either have him read out to you, or read yourself to ensure that everything has been taken down properly, before signing it. Or write it yourself, sign it and hand it over to him. Also, make sure that you receive a stamped copy of the FIR, with an FIR number, date of FIR and the name of the police station. The stamp on the FIR should bear a DD (Daily Diary) Number, which is the proof of their receiving your complaint.
The idea is to convey the message that there are people who care for the rights of these innocent animals, even if they aren’t ‘useful’ to us in any tangible way. Because we are humans with the thing called ‘humanity’ inside us, not just the appearance. It will not only teach the offender a lesson but at the same time it will uplift the spirits of the people who care but could not muster up the courage to react in such a case. They’ll be trained on how exactly are they supposed to deal with, the next time they face a similar situation. Also will it act as a deterrent to all those who have had such history of abusing animals.
A little change in your stance alone leads to so many things happening simultaneously;
- the dog gets saved,
- the offender is taught a new lesson he’ll never forget,
- the passers-by; who are compassionate to animals learn how exactly are they supposed to handle a similar situation in future,
- and the ones who have ever mistreated animals would know what lies in store for them in case they repeat it a next time!
Each of these things lie in your hands, so don’t ever underestimate your influence or capabilities being just a common man. The change lies in you. Remember the quote by Mahatma Gandhi? “Be the change you want to see in the world”. The change here awaits none other than YOU!
LITTLE THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP MAKE THE STRAY DOGS’ LIVES SO MUCH BETTER
Stray dogs are almost always starved. They have to compete with an already big population of strays living in a small area, for morsels from garbage dumps. So the biggest problem is this acute scarcity of food. During the scorching summers, even the accessibility to water adds to it. What we can do to help the poor stray dogs is just collect the leftovers of our house for them, that we would not eat and dispose off the following day. They are stale for us, but for the dogs, they’re a dream. We can simply collect them, wrap them loosely and place them outside our houses. Dogs loitering nearby would follow the food’s scent, locate and eat it. If it’s done regularly for as little as a week, they’ll pick up the hint and visit regularly hoping for their ‘luxury’ parcel! It hardly takes any hard work, but the joy and satisfaction received is indescribable.
If you feel a little extra generous, you can always add to the quantity and quality of food. A few extra chapatis or bread or biscuits will support more of them without breaking your bank. Additionally you can also keep water for them outside. Just fill up any old tub, pot, bucket or utensil with water preferably big enough so you don’t have to worry about refilling it frequently and stack it near the food. You can also pamper them further with special treats on your special days such as birthdays & anniversaries. It will only add to your happiness alongside theirs..
Want to do more to help the stray dogs? Adopt! Can’t? I get that’s easier said than done. Don’t lose heart, you can still do so much more. You can encourage your neighbors to be a bit more compassionate and do the little things like ‘the-extra-food-offering’ you began with. And with time if you have a few people as enthusiastic as you, you can even raise funds from your locality, and use the money to get your neighborhood dogs treated in case of illness or accidents or to even get them neutered for population control!
These little acts of compassion will not only help change the stray dogs’ lives but will also enhance yours, beyond words. The happiness & contentment derived from your acts of selflessness & kindness, acknowledged with loyalty & unconditional love from your new four-legged friends is something that cannot be explained but only experienced…
PLEASE ALSO KNOW
However for the sake of transparency to my readers, I must also add that, life is not always a bed of roses. For there will be times when you might happen to be pricked by a few thorns in the form of anti-social people, who won’t recognize or value your efforts to help the ill-fated stray dogs. You may face and have to deal with these kinds of resistance, but fret not, if you could come this far you’ll make it farther. So there will be pricks who would be concerned about literally any weird concern they can think and make of and would try their best to create unnecessary hurdles to decelerate your pace.
For instance, some random neighbor might dislike or be scared of dogs and be annoyed at you, for merely having to pass by the peaceful dogs nestling near your house, awaiting lunchtime everyday! Or some retarded kid might find pelting them with stones very amusing or funny! Or someone might hate them for no fault of theirs and try to kill them by beating, throwing acid or poisoning. All this may sound far-fetched, but I myself have experienced (and over time learnt to deal with) every bit of this, as I too do my bit for the strays near my house. The sad truth is, that these psycho/sociopaths are everywhere, you just need to learn to deal with them, the appropriate way. And for which, you must know yours as well as your four legged best friends’ rights as directed by the supreme law of India, that binds all the citizens as well as courts in the country.
YOUR RIGHTS WITH REGARD TO HELPING THE STRAY DOGS IN ANY WAY, AS PER THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:
- There is no law forbidding the care-taking or feeding of stray dogs by citizens. Courts have upheld the act of feeding them as these citizens are performing a duty cast upon them by the Constitution of India – of showing compassion to all living creatures. Also does this act reduce animal-human conflict which is an added plus.
- Housing societies cannot ban residents from keeping dogs. They cannot ban their use of roads, parks, lifts etc. They cannot fine the residents for keeping dogs or their using the common services such as lifts, parks and so on. They simply lack the power/authority and it is illegal. In such a case, the tenant or house owner must not give in to their pressure and report it to the nearest police station.
- Attempts to interfere with or harassment to a person who chooses to look after or feed stray dogs, can be tantamount to the very grave offense of criminal intimidation, punishable under Indian Penal Code 503 & 506.
- Beating, driving away, dumping elsewhere or killing stray dogs is an offense punishable by law.
- It is illegal to put out poisoned food or any injurious substance to harm or kill dogs.
- It is illegal to kill homeless animals. Citizens may only report what they perceive as a nuisance to the municipal authorities. The municipality is required to maintain an animal pound for animals. Previously, municipalities would kill these animals (mainly dogs) cruelly by electrocution, starvation and burying alive. But since 1992, it has become illegal for any municipality to kill stray dogs. The Courts have specifically forbidden the killing of stray dogs and have directed the municipality to introduce a sensible sterilization program instead. The Animal Welfare Board of India has established a code of conduct for municipalities and directed them towards the implementation of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) program. Failure to follow the code can invite contempt of court proceedings.
- It is illegal for a municipality to round up stray dogs and abandon them outside city limits, as it places them in circumstances very likely to cause death from starvation among other factors. Therefore, it can be challenged in court.
- If you see a dog knocked over by a rash vehicle, try to take down it’s number. Check the animal for signs of life. If possible, move it to safety and administer life-saving first aid. If you can take the animal to a veterinarian yourself, do so. If not, call an animal welfare organization that has an ambulance. Once the animal has been taken care of, file a complaint against the offender with the closest police station. This is a punishable offence under IPC 428 and 429.
Please remember cruelty towards the voiceless animals is a ‘cognizable offense’ under ‘section 11’ of ‘the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act’ and ‘sections 428 & 429 of the Indian Penal Code’ – punishable with imprisonment and fine.
P.S. A cognizable offence is one which is considered serious enough to file an FIR. Which means that the Police cannot just shrug it off and is bound to register it.
Also find (and download for future reference) a detailed, original copy of a circular from the Animal Welfare Board of India, regarding the rights of the pet dogs, their owners, stray dogs, and their caregivers, duly signed by the Chairperson here- The_dogs_circular_AWBI
And before we part ways let’s go through an amazing real-life-story that truly epitomizes the quote, “Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always humans.” Here we have a pup that was orphaned or lost, having no one to look after him. A monkey noticed his distress and decided to adopt him! The monkey, feeds (in fact let’s him eat first), carries and protects him. This is a true incident that happened in a village called ‘Rode’ in Punjab, India. Source link here.
Another very similar incident took place in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India. Source link here.
They say we have ‘evolved’ from the apes. Evolution is development and advancement not just physically but morally as well. But here we have these poor monkeys mothering animals belonging to an altogether different species, against the norms of nature, whereas the mighty humans are just walking past and clicking pictures.
Who exactly is the animal here?
Who is the one practicing humanity?
Have we really evolved in the true sense?
I would feel really appreciated if you ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ on the article. Your deciding to ‘subscribe’ for future updates would feel equally great. But if there’s one thing I could ask from you, it would be to ‘Share’ it. Please help me, help people to help the stray dogs!
Thanks in advance.
Stay Dog Blessed!