Paws agony at puppy mills

Imagine forcing your pet dog to live his entire life in a small wire cage with no human companionship, toys or comfort and little hope of ever becoming part of a family and being loved and cared for life? Pathetic! That is what life is like for a puppy mill breeding dog!

Hundreds of thousands of dogs in India suffer in puppy mills. They are made prisoners of greed, locked in small dirty cages, freeze in winters and swelter in the summers, never get out of their prisons. They are bred over and over again.

Agony in puppy mills

    • Dogs are kept in crammed/small wire cages for their entire lives.


    • Female dogs are bred the first time they come into heat and then on bred every heat cycle until their poor worn out bodies can’t reproduce any longer and are later left on the streets.


    • Puppy mills maximise their profits by not spending adequate money on proper food, housing or veterinary care.


    • Dogs are found to be covered with matted, filthy hair and overall in a pathetic condition.
    • Many have emotional problems, are psychologically scarred from the mind numbing boredom of being imprisoned in a small cage for a year and develop a habit of going round and round in circles for hours or barking at walls for hours.


    • Breeding dogs are caged, sometimes soiled in their own excrement leading to genetic defects or lifelong physical deformities.


    • Puppies are taken away from their mothers early and sold to brokers or middlemen who pack them in crates for resale.


The picture is sad, scary and horrifying. So, next time you think of bringing home a pet, adopt one from an ethical breeder or a shelter.

It’s a pawsome world for all!

World for All–Animal Care and Adoptions started off with one puppy, Facebook and a girl who was tired of feeling sorry for homeless animals…! They now facilitate 60 adoptions of Indian breed pups and kittens each month. Here’s more on this noble organisation.

Held on 25th September 2011, Adoptathon was an adoption camp for Indian street pups and kittens in Mumbai. The event was an initiative of Lioness District 323A2 (Lions Clubs International) and was inaugurated by Lion Ashok Mehta, Ex-Sheriff of Mumbai, together with World for All – Animal Care and Adoptions. More than 105 pups and kittens were adopted. Adoptions are still continuing as there were many who didn’t get pups and kittens that day and are following up with World for All to find their ‘little friend’ soon. Here’s more about this animal welfare organisation.

The humble beginning…

World for All – Animal Care and Adoptions was started by Ruchi Nadkarni and Taronish Bulsara through a small Facebook group, initially named ‘Save the Helpless Animals of Mumbai’ and an idea for a calendar in 2008–09, after which the initiative was called ‘World For All’. “The journey has been a very learning one; I come across new things every day. With more awareness, people are welcoming Indian animals into their homes and we are striving harder each day to increase awareness. Anyone working for animal welfare is indispensable and their contribution is always valuable,” told Ruchi.

The work areas…

“Our forte is Animal Adoptions, we do puppy and kitten adoptions everyday and we constantly improve our methods of working. But that’s not all, we have pre-adoption interviews, post-adoption follow ups, etc. We also take up rescue cases to the best of our capacity as we do not have a mobile van yet. We hold a lot of interesting events every year and are constantly encouraging this as a new career option,” she told.

But the main focus remains ‘Adoptions’ through which they believe, with every animal being homed, especially a female cat or a female dog; it decreases the number of street animals by plenty. “After a litter of pups or kittens are rescued and homed, the female dog/cat is sterilised immediately. More lives are saved and suffering is reduced automatically,” explained Ruchi.

“We also organise workshops for people in the animal community, First Aid Training, Career Guidance, Fund Raising Endeavours, aiding economically backward animal loving families with their rescues, etc,” added Taronish.

The modus operandi…

“We operate via foster families across Mumbai and do not have a shelter for the simple reason that there is a high chance of cross infection and the attention and care given to each puppy or kitten based on their individual needs become limited. Also we home more animals and there is no restriction to the number whereas a shelter would have restrictions to the number of animals they take in. Secondly, homing animals assures the animal good health, love and care and happiness which a shelter may not be able to offer,” added Ruchi.

Benefits of Indian pets…

“Our Indian animals are accustomed to our weather and they are beautiful and looked majestic under care and age does not show on them easily. They are very low in maintenance as compared to any breed dog/kitten, less susceptible to diseases, easy to train and are friendly, loyal and make perfect pets. That explains why they will make better pets for us,” told Ruchi as a matter of fact. Besides, the menace of puppy mills also should be taken into consideration.

The adoption…

“Anybody can adopt and make a difference, be it a couple or a family or an individual alone in the city. But the decision to adopt must not be an abrupt one. It does not take much to care for an Indian dog or kitten but an adopter must be ready to stand by the animal when difficulties come. An adopter must understand that he/she needs not and must not give up on the animal when they have a newborn in the family or they are leaving the country or there is an ill member in the family. There is always a way to stand by them and stand up for them,” told Taronish.

What keeps them going…

“It is the constant belief that every animal has a home waiting for him somewhere and that we are the means by which they can get there. We never give up on believing this and an infant once rescued by us never goes back to the street. We have even picked up animals from shelters and fish markets and homed them and the constant update of their wellbeing in their new homes gives us the strength to carry on,” told Taronish.

“Every animal means the world to us, but of course, there are the few who leave their indelible impressions in our hearts and leave teaching us unbelievable lessons; we call them angels. Some of them include paralysed cats and dogs that either our team has adopted themselves or have homed them with loving families,” added Ruchi.

“People are opening their minds to Indian Breeds and are becoming more sensitive and aware of animals suffering,” added Ruchi.

On a concluding note…

“As a message to the readers, we would say that be sensitive to everything in your surroundings and we want people to understand that it is a World for All and that people must treat the animals around them with compassion. We request people to stop inflicting acts of cruelty on them and to put themselves in their place and realise the pain and suffering they go through. Volunteers can join our cause on Facebook ( and help by sharing our posts, fostering pups and kittens till they find homes, helping us with rescues, funding our cause and also by simply spreading the word and creating awareness. Compassion towards animals needs to get epidemic and we want people to come help us in achieving the aim,” reverberated Ruchi and Taronish.

It’s KARMA that makes the difference!

Cindy is paralysed waist down. She was found on one of the pavements in the hustling city of Bangalore. People who were around, said that she was found whimpering on the outer ring road in the middle of the night. She was rescued and treated but it was too late for any major improvements in her condition. Cindy now lives with her other furry friends in a home that is an open house for all needy dogs. This is one of the many stories of the dogs rescued by KARMA (Kulture for Animal Rehabilitation and Mass Awareness).

What’s KARMA?

Established in the year 2009 in Hyderabad, KARMA is a small registered group devoted to the care and rehabilitation of dogs who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. They are also very actively involved in the adoption of Indian dogs and puppies. It was started by Aparna Bhatt, who has dedicated all her time for the cause. She believes that giving home to a homeless is a form of worship and hopes that more people realise it and come forward to support this cause.

How was KARMA started?

Aparna Bhatt started by adopting five dogs and then realised that there were many more who needed help, love and care. In the first year of inception, KARMA has been successful in 21 adoptions (17 Indian and 4 rescued pedigree) and the attempt to do more continues. Aparna operates out of her rented house and herself has a brood of 10 dogs, all of which are rescued. Apart from them, foster kids come and go, so it’s always a full house.

How’s life at KARMA?

KARMA house is a sight to behold. It’s a doggy’s paradise where all the dogs are treated like family members and there is no discrimination whatsoever.

How KARMA works?

The funds for maintaining the dogs primarily come from her fiancé Ankush and few of her close dog-lover friends. Ankush & Aparna take care of the vaccination and sterilisation of all the dogs before they are adopted. To ensure that their adopted dogs are happy and safe in their new homes, Aparna personally carries out a thorough background check, home visit and follow-ups with all the adoptive families.

According to Aparna, “Our work is still in a nascent stage and there is much more to be done. We need the support of other animal-lovers to ensure that more and more of our canine friends are helped and have a happy future. Aparna’s aim is to make KARMA reach a position where this work is not constrained by limited space and resources. She has dedicated her life to these amazing canine beings and wishes to continue serving them right till her last breath. Kudos to this noble deed!

ARF: Supporting the animal welfare organisations

A major obstacle in running an animal welfare organisation is the lack of funds. To address this need, Animal Rights Fund (ARF) collects funds to support such NGOs.

Incident that changed life…

Twenty-seven years back (1982), one bright morning while reading my newspaper; I heard a crow’s cry. I saw a crow crying in vain to free itself. It was entangled in a thread (coated with glass powder – manja) of a kite on a coconut tree. My sister immediately called an Animal welfare NGO (Cartman), who came and rescued the crow. The joy of seeing the bird free triggered me to start working for animals and birds. This is how my journey for Animal Rights Fund started.

Animal Rights Fund…

Apart from concentrating on my career I also started working as a volunteer in different AWOs (animal welfare organisations) in Bangalore. We realised that AWOs faced acute shortage of funds. Thus, Animal Rights Fund organisation was set up in 1999 to collect funds to support other animal welfare organisations. We wanted to become the nodal agency and make sure that all animal causes got adequate fund, food and medicines from ARF. Over time, our involvement spread to include myriad activities relating to ensuring rights of animals; rest is history.

At that time, BBMP would catch and electrocute street dogs and puppies mercilessly. We managed to get the BBMP to stop merciless killing of street dogs and started ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme to control street dog population in Bangalore. In 2007, we switched to CNVR (Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release) technique from ABC. CNVR is humane, safe, simple, friendly and effective. Street dogs are released on the same day.

Activities a ARF…

ARF has an ‘Animal Helpline’ between 8 AM to 4 PM which treats sick and injured street animals. We also promote veganism, fight legal battles for animal causes, and last but not the least—ARF is also going to start a disaster management programme for helping animals in disaster: this involves wild animal rehabilitation and gene bank management. Vaccination camps and free check up camps for large animals (cattle, horse, etc) are held in rural areas of Hubli – Dharwad.

We also carry out Awareness building and Educational programs on animal behaviour in rural areas. We have successfully opened many branches all over India with more than 100 employees working for the cause of animals.

ARF accolades…

ARF has been fighting legal battles for animals. In our first case, we got a ban order for five animals in circus from the Supreme Court. Besides, High Court of Karnataka has given out the order of prohibition of camels in Karnataka. Apart from these, we have also won in three dog cases in High Court of Karnataka.

Challenges faced…

First and foremost, it has always been a difficult hunt to find motivated staff to work. Also, rescuing animals like camels, cattle, etc slated for slaughter created threat for the ARF team. It’s a big struggle to fight for animals. Besides, funds are also one of our main problems.

Incident that touched my heart…

Recently we found one abandoned six-year-old pedigreed dog. We took the dog for rehabilitation but the dog stopped taking food, water and was not responding to medicine too, as she was missing her master. As per our observation, the dog tried to harm herself by hitting herself hard against the kennel walls. The entire ARF team tried to save the dog, but we were not successful.

Motivation to keep going…

My love for animals and birds has always been the force to keep me going. The gory fact behind dairy and leather industry converted me to a vegan. I would like to conclude by saying that be kind to animals, birds and all other living beings and follow veganism. For more info, visit:

Animal abuse

We as humans need to understand that animals are living beings and they share the same feelings and pain just as we humans do, the only difference is that we can tell what we are undergoing and animals cannot!

Types of abuse

Deepti Nadhan, a college going girl, was gifted a pup on her birthday by her friends. She had never owned a pet in her life. Obviously she was unaware of the Do’s and Don’ts while taking care of the pup. One day, she had to go out and she forgot to keep the pup’s food. Though, this wasn’t an intentional way of abuse but the pup was crying when she returned. She realised her folly and since then she has taken up the responsibility on a more serious note.

Thus, there are mainly two forms of abuse.

  1. Active abuse: This includes cruelty like hitting an animal, physically abusing him. This is intentional abuse.
  2. Passive abuse: This form, as the name suggests, is unintentional. In this type, the abuser is unaware that he/she is harming the pet in some way. For example, the owner may leave his/her pet in the car with the windows rolled up or leaving the pet outside the house for longer duration than normal or keeping his/her pet tied, not taking the pet for walks, keeping the pet in a cage, etc.

How to spot one

Animal abuse is a broad term and it is important to have some pointers in place to identify one.

  • When you see an animal or a pet, check if he is in good health.
  • Check if the animal has been provided with proper shelter.
  • Look out if the feces have been cleared and if the animal is living in a livable condition.
  • Observe the animal’s behaviour. Notify if you find him too timid or scared.
  • Check for any kind of illness.

Irresponsible/ignorant owners

Owners not taking care of their pets make me wonder why did they ever keep a pet in the first place. There is a 10 months old Lab who barks the place down for hours on end because the poor fellow is tied on a short leash outside the house. Thankfully, during the heat of the day, the lady takes him inside and keeps him in the bathroom! It’s better than leaving him out in the sun! Which is exactly what another family does with their two years old Lab. The poor dog is kept in the sun (on a patch of mud – there is no grass or even a tree to give him shade – with just a bucket of water. He is so exhausted by evening that he doesn’t even have the energy to wag his tail when he sees us going. When the bucket of water overturns or is empty, he starts barking. I feel so sad for the helpless little dog and wonder why these people bother to keep dogs if they think that letting their dogs inside the house is going to dirty their place!

Act when you spot one

Yogesh Potdar was on his usual evening walks in the park when he heard a dog whining. He looked everywhere but couldn’t find the source of the sound. Finally, he managed to spot a drainage outlet from where the sound was coming. He immediately called for the fire rescuers and managed to save the dog’s life who had accidentally fallen inside the open manhole.

This is just one incident of an animal needing help, there can be many others. You are walking down a lane and spot an animal being abused.

The solution is what you can do. Here are some easy steps you need to follow in case you see an animal being abused.

  • Help the animal first: If you see an animal being physically abused, try to stop it by persuading the one doing it. If that doesn’t help, call the police. Also, make sure you notify the organisation or a trust that protects animal like PETA and so on. By informing them, you not only support them but also stop abuse indirectly.
  • Note down the facts: Make sure you record your observations as it will serve as evidence. The situation, the way, details of the abuser and so on. Be prepared to be a witness and offer your evidence of cruelty to the concerned authority for further action.
  • Use the net: Search for sites that support animal protection and notify the world through that site about the abuser and the kind of abuse.
  • Spread the word: Spread the word to near and dear ones about the incident so that the abuser is under constant check by the locales and the animal may not be abused again.
  • Start a club: You can go a mile ahead and start a club of your own which protects animals. You can then urge people to join the bandwagon and take the necessary steps to stop abuse.

Like Mahatma Gandhi said – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Dogfighting: A dreadful sport

We human beings have so many different kinds of entertainment that we can choose from to pass time. Is it necessary for us to hurt another living being who is termed as man’s best friend? Isn’t it an irony that such a sport called ‘dogfighting’ has gained popularity around the world which brings end to a beautiful life? Here’s a look into the matter of dogfighting.

Dogs are the best four-legged creature whom we domesticate and say that they are our best friends who serve as stress busters, guide dogs, in defence and police, to cure diseases, to find out diseases, an animal who is so talented and can be trained for so many different things to help mankind in their progress. We have read stories where pets have saved their owners from death because of their sixth sense and alertness.

A gory act

Sadly human beings use dogs for gambling in a sport called ‘dogfighting’ where there will be two dogs putting against each other to fight in which there is certainty of death of one dog and whoever betted on the winner will win lots of money. Animal fighting has been throughout the world but dog fighting in particular was associated with the UK.

In this day and age where everything is modernised, all are well educated and groomed but it is very sad to know that such people are interested in a sport which is lethal and dangerous. No one has the right to play with anyone’s life, but it is happening because few people indulge themselves in dogfighting sport.

A blood sport

Dogfighting is a blood sport in which people train dogs to be aggressive to fight till death. It is a form of entertainment which generates revenue through stud fees, gambling and admission fees. The original fighting dogs were large, heavy build, powerful breeds like pitbull of today. It is difficult to understand why people would indulge in such vicious and gruesome sport even after knowing the aftermath how they can enjoy and relish to be part of such game. One of the facts regarding dogfight is dogs are placed in a ring and forced to fight. They tear in to each other until the dogs die or give up. The fight may last from ten minutes to three hours. Dogs die from shock and blood loss.

This sport definitely shows cruelty towards animals and is also a danger to people who attend such sport. Seeing so much of violence for hours in person will affect their psyche, which in turn might affect their life in a very negative fashion.

A peek into the past

This sport had been popular in many countries throughout the history and continued to be practiced both legally and illegally around the world. Dogfighting is illegal in 50 states and considered felony in 47 states in the US that it’s becoming a global problem, which is now out of control. Dog fighting is practiced widely in Latin American countries and is now gaining popularity in Afghanistan.

In India, dogfighting is illegal and at the same time to possess videos of the same or attending a dogfighting event is punishable. In the 1750’s, dogfighting was very common as police officers used to enjoy this sport a lot. Although many laws were passed, still this sport continued to prevail.

Victims of dogfight

Victims of dogfights are affected very badly in every fight and sometimes they faced the risk of death or getting maimed by other dog. Stolen animals are often used in training as bait or as breeding stock for bait. There are many animals stolen for bait without warning.

The RSPCA has revealed that an increasing number of dogs are being treated for stab wounds, burns and broken bones due to street fighting. There were reports of dog fighting numbering 284 in the UK, which is an increase of 1200 percent as in 2004.

Training for fighting dogs?

  • They are forced to do things that a dog might not want to. They are adorned with heavy chains and are made to run a lot.
  • They are left outside on roads.
  • They are given overdose of steroids.
  • They are termed to harsh and cruel treatment which no one can imagine.

People involved

People involved in dog fighting sport can be divided into three categories. ‘Street’ fights in layman’s language means the fights that take place on streets. For street dog fighting they don’t require any particular place, as a street’s corner would be more than enough to start the game. Usually young lads are involved in street dogfighting where they would want to prove that their dogs could win the fight when compared to the dog owned by another young guy. It is just like a game for them where they might place a bet for some money also. The aftermath of such fights is nothing but to encounter dead or dying animals.

‘Hobbyists’ meaning persons doing something because it’s their hobby are well organised and indulged in this sport. In this, the dogs are given more attention with regards to care and breeding.

‘Professionals’ are those who are deeply involved in this sport as their livelihood. These people breed more dogs and earn money from breeding, selling and fighting dogs at particular locations. They act like breeders of a particular bloodline.

The animal charity is concerned that pets are being used as weapons to intimidate people. This claim is proved by the fact that two-third cases of street fights in the UK in 2008 involved youths. There was an increase of more than forty percent in the number of youths using animals to intimidate people.

Time to stop the cruelty

It is our responsibility as a civilized human being to spread awareness and stop such cruelty towards animals. It is a shameful act on our part to be involved/encouraged/indifferent towards such ghastly sport/game, which is done for entertainment because of which a living being is caused to death due to our indulgence or negligence.

(As told to the author by Dharmesh Solanki from PETA–People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

‘PAWS’ for a noble cause

The young team at PAWS definitely makes us think that the younger generation today is geared for making this world a better place for our animals! Kudos to this young and energetic PAWS team!

One of my volunteers was issued a notice by his society for keeping a pet dog at his house. PAWS came forward and with much persuasion, succeeded in making the society reconsider the decision for keeping pets. This set an example for all of us that animals do have rights to live and it touched my heart.

Inception of the noble cause…

I was doing my graduation and one day I noticed some crows attacking a pigeon. I shooed the crows away and brought the pigeon to my home and fed him. We then took him to Anamika, a member of Ahimsa (that time), who in turn took the pigeon to a vet but despite of all her efforts, the pigeon died, which made me think of the misery of stray animals, which we see, everyday on road. I decided to join her. She taught me how to rescue animals and treat them. Since there was scarcity of rescue service, we decided to start our own ambulance service for animals. That’s when PAWS was born!

The accolades…

In the first year of inception itself, PAWS received its first ambulance for animals, which was district’s first animal ambulance, donated by Anil Kataria of Ahmednagar SPCA. Since then, there is no looking back. Till today, PAWS provides help to over 1300 stray animals.

We received a ‘Non-Profit of a Month’ award from NGO’S website Karmayog for ‘Outstanding Service to the Society’ in 2005. In the same year, PAWS’s work published in ‘Limca Book of Records 2005’ as ‘India’s Youngest Animal Rehabilitation Team’. In 2007, volunteer Sonali and I were awarded the ‘Certificate of Recognition’ from PETA India.

PAWS now…

Established in January 2001, PAWS started as a charity, but is now a full-fledged animal welfare organization with three ambulances that operates within five cities of Thane district for the rescue of stray and injured animals. They also carry dogs/cats for sterilization to the nearest centers. We have total 140 volunteers’ team who help animals as well as organization in their own capacity. The core team of PAWS includes two trustees & six volunteers who help in day-to-day running of the organization. We also have one vet paid on case-to-case basis.

Today, the young PAWS team is busy organizing training programs, rescuing animals, attending vaccination drives, helping students with their environmental projects, school awareness programs, adoptions & rehoming, wildlife rescue & rehabilitation, legal issues, campaigning & promoting vegetarianism, organizing camps for cattle, stray animals and disaster management for animals.

With the help of like-minded NGOs, we are continually getting the animals sterilized and solve all major problems of volunteers who are getting threatened from society not to feed them. We also help pet owners who are not allowed to keep pets.

Achievements so far…

We did massive rescue project during the floods in Mumbai and suburbs and helped over 600 buffalos in Kalyan in 2005. In the year 2006, PAWS volunteer Prasad and I, scientifically studied the ‘Captive Elephants of Maharashtra’ and submitted the reports to CUPA–a Bangalore-based NGO which runs an elephant sanctuary. PAWS runs annual anti-rabies drives over 25 colonies a year in Thane district.

The driving force…

We see hundreds of animals suffer on streets of Thane district; we get calls for animals/birds in distress, people call us with expectation that keeps us busy, going and doing animal welfare. Our policy is never say ‘NO’ to any one. Just help out as much possible by going to the root or at least giving caller a proper guidance.

The measures needed…

The animal population in the country is high which needs to be controlled by massive sterilizations as well as there should be control on unethical pet breeders. Live and let live and go vegetarian.

Paws for a cause

Let’s all come together to help our canine and feline friends lead a happy and healthy life.

PAWS was founded in July 1999 by a small group of animal lovers who were very troubled by the terrible condition of domestic and stray dogs and cats in mauritius.

The milestones achieved…

For the first decade, we initially concentrated on helping wounded and sick animals around the island, and the re-homing of abandoned animals. We were facing the sad reality of the overpopulation of dogs and cats in Mauritius, and we realised we could never find good homes for all of them.

In 2001, we were advised to concentrate our resources on sterilising rather than re-homing, and on educating the public on how to take better care of their pets so that they did not become strays. In the first two years, PAWS sterilised 1,300 dogs and cats.

In all, PAWS has sterilized more than 37,000 dogs and cats in the last six years, preventing the birth of thousands of unwanted of puppies and kittens, most of whom would have suffered and reproduced, adding to the overpopulation of strays in Mauritius. Today, PAWS has three Mobile Clinics that go around the Island to treat and sterilize the pet dogs while abandoned puppies and kittens are rescued on a daily basis by the PAWS drivers or volunteers.

Creating awareness…

We realised that we cannot improve Animal Welfare in Mauritius without changing how the population thinks about animals. So, we educate people on how to take better care of the animals – in schools, in social centres, on local radios as well as on TV.

Finding homes for the homeless…

As PAWS is located in the South, we organize Adoption Days in Commercial Centres in the centre of the Island every 6 weeks, to give the opportunity to those who cannot come to the South to adopt a pet.

Helping pet parents…

PAWS has now got a Veterinary Clinic in Floréal (Centre of the Island), as there is currently no vet at all available in that region, during the day. The PAWS Team treats animals in distress and sterilises dogs and cats, free of charge. PAWS vets also give paid consultations to owned animals, to support PAWS charity work.

The permanent members at PAWS…

We permanently have about 25 puppies, 15 adult dogs, 10 kittens and 5 adult cats at PAWS. Our favourites are Billy, a German Shepherds, who was a troubled guy when he came to Paws and his good pal Amy. Besides, we have an Animal Welfare Team composed of five persons to feed the animals, clean the cages, walk the adult dogs and play with the animals. Volunteers also help at the PAWS kennels.

The driving force…

My strength is renewed each time an animal is rescued or finds a good home, this encourages me to carry on. The animals need PAWS, we need each other, so I feel I am not allowed to give up, whatever the circumstance.

Message to the readers…

If you see an animal in distress, it is your responsibility to do something to alleviate his suffering. Don’t think someone else will do it! The Animal Welfare Associations can only do a part, but we need volunteers and animal lovers to help us do the work.

Roxane Marin is PR/Communications & Vice-President, Protection of Animals Welfare Society (PAWS – Mauritius.)


Better than the best

Sometimes they are kicked or glared at. Other times, they are given biscuits. Once in a while, they are given love and a family. Yes, we are talking about our so-called stray dogs, who can become our wonderful companions.

Rini and Tapas Ghosh of Kolkata adopted Goti ten years ago. He lived in their apartment complex with his parents until Rini found him lying dehydrated in the middle of the road. She brought him home and arranged for medical treatment. When Goti was restored to health, the Ghoshs didn’t have the heart to send him back outside. Tapas had planned to buy a Labrador but he happily settled for Goti. Asked if he thinks his experience would have been different had he bought a pedigree dog, he shakes his head. “It would probably have been the same. Goti is the baby of the family.” Soon after Goti’s adoption, another resident of the same apartment complex, adopted Goti’s mother. Goti’s father also found a home, although in another neighbourhood.

Another family who decided to get their pets from their street was Dr. Ruby Sarkar’s. Ruby lives with her brother and has several pets – none of them pedigree. Queen, was her first adopted pet and now they have Gulti, who is one and half years old and the apple of everybody’s eyes. Starting from neighbours to the local rickshaw pullers, everybody stops to pet her.

Then there are Priyanka Ghosh and her husband who decided to get a pet soon after their marriage. Already a lover of stray dogs, the couple adopted two dogs from ‘People for Animals’ temporary shelter in May 2008. Now Hashi (meaning Smile) and Chinta (meaning Worry) are loved by neighbours as well.

Beautiful experiences

The decision to adopt a dog from the street or the pound is usually one that is made by people who have had previous interactions with these animals. “We’ve always had a bunch of dogs in the house since my childhood. We never bought them. What’s the need when I can give these beautiful, loyal animals a home instead?” says Rini Ghosh. Priyanka points out that some pedigree dogs are only suitable for cold climate–so why not adopt our great Indian breed. There is no difference in love and they are most suited for our Indian weather.

Then, there’s Sushmita Lahiri who has parented both stray and pedigree dogs. She’s had a few of both kinds, living together in harmony. When asked why she adopted dogs from the street, even though the family already had Golden Retrievers, Sushmita’s daughter, Rupin responds, “We’ve always loved stray dogs. We see no difference between them and pedigree dogs. Our experiences with our pedigree pets made us realize how wonderful dogs are. This resulted in us wanting to adopt more.”

A pet is a pet

Those of you who are reading this may wonder if adopting a stray dog is more complicated than buying a Labrador or a Pug from a well-known pet shop. It isn’t any harder or any easier. A pet is a pet. Regardless of the breed, the pet must be given due attention and care. Dr. Snehashish Banerjee, a well-known vet in Kolkata says, “Strictly speaking, there is no basic difference between the health care of dogs, be it stray or a pedigree one. However, there may be some difference in the management practices.”

Before you bring home a stray pup

  • Those planning to adopt a stray dog must be prepared for the responsibility it will take. It requires time and passion.
  • Make sure that the new family member is cordially welcomed by your family members so that he is at his best mental state during this transition to a new place. Remember, some rescued dogs may have had traumatic experiences before coming to your home.
  • Take the opinion of your vet whenever there is any issue. Listen to suggestions given by your friends and dog handlers, but your vet is the best person to advise you.

Pedigree or stray, a dog’s love is unconditional, he will always be by your side. It is up to you to be responsible for him. Keep him healthy and happy—he is God’s angel for you!

PDSA: working nobly for a noble cause

The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive in recognition of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving in military conflict. The award is the brainchild of Maria Dickin, the founder of PDSA, UK’s leading veterinary charity. Here’s more on this organisation and the award.

A humble beginning

PDSA owes its foundation to the vision of a woman—Maria Elizabeth Dickin—and her determination to raise the status of animals and the standard of their care in society. During the First World War, Maria Dickin CBE worked to improve the dreadful state of animal health in the Whitechapel area of London. She wanted to open a clinic where East Enders living in poverty could receive free treatment for their sick and injured animals.

Despite the scepticism of the establishment, Maria Dickin opened her free ‘dispensary’ in a Whitechapel basement on 17th November 1917. It was an immediate success and she was soon forced to find larger premises.

An organisation with a difference

Today, PDSA is UK’s leading veterinary charity, operating a network of 43 PetAid hospitals and 4 PetAid branches. The charity also works through some 344 contracted private practices (known as PetAid practices), which also provide PDSA-funded treatment to pets of eligible owners. PDSA veterinary staff provides more than 1.3 million free treatments each year, seeing on average 4,650 sick and injured pets every working day.

Maria Dickin CBE – PDSA’s founder – introduced the PDSA Dickin Medal in 1943 to recognise animals displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whist serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during the First World War.

Meet the heroes

More recently, two canine heroes, Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) arms and explosives search dog, Sadie, and Royal Air Force (RAF) Police tracker dog, Lucky, were honoured by PDSA for their wartime heroism. PDSA Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra, presented the PDSA Dickin Medal, the Animals’ Victoria Cross, at a special ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum in London.

RAVC arms and explosives search dog, Sadie, a Black Labrador, received the Medal, recognised worldwide as the Animals’ Victoria Cross, for her gallant exploits in Afghanistan. RAVC search dog Sadie was accompanied at the ceremony by her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley from Irvine, Scotland. The pair has worked together for two years and completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan. In November 2005, Sadie located a booby-trap bomb concealed in a pressure cooker. The bomb was concealed behind a two-foot thick concrete blast wall within the United Nations compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sadie’s discovery saved possibly hundreds of soldiers and civilians from death and serious injury.

RAF Police tracker dog, Lucky, a German Shepherd, received his Medal posthumously on behalf of four RAF tracker dogs who tirelessly worked in the Malayan jungle between 1949 and 1952. RAF war veteran Corporal Bevel Austin Stapleton (79), Lucky’s handler and partner during the Malaya Campaign, proudly accepted the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of his faithful canine companion.

The legacy continues…

Sadie and Lucky bring the total number of PDSA Dickin Medals presented to animals for their wartime heroism to 62. Since the introduction of the award by PDSA it has now been awarded to 26 dogs, 32 pigeons, three horses and one cat.