Across time and space, dogs have withstood tests of loyalty, giving unconditional love and companionship to people. Home, to the dogs, is their parents. Still, many dogs are abandoned by their guardians, why? When we lose our way sometimes and land up in some strange area, we feel threatened; we feel something hideous might happen to us. What about the poor creatures when we abandon them heartlessly? Anuradha Sawhney answers some of the FAQs on abandonment.
Q : What are the common factors leading to abandonment of dogs?
AS : It requires lots of commitment in bringing up a dog. Unfortunately, many people acquire canine pets to satisfy their whims. Another common factor is to own a dog for fancy or status symbol. Sometimes, pups are given as presents, as if they are some objects to be gifted. While doing so, it is not even considered if a person is prepared or not to bring up a dog. People often indulge in getting a pup home without thinking about commitment in terms of time and nurturing, not to forget the monetary aspect as well.
As expected, it often doesn’t take long for impulsive buyers to regret their decision, such owners get tired of their pets after some time. Once a pup becomes a full-grown dog, they fail to be the cynosure of the owner’s eyes. Ultimately, as the owner gets preoccupied with other matters, they no longer keep interest in understanding the needs of his or her pet, and hence lead to their abandonment.
It is also not uncommon that dogs just wander off their homes due to the owner’s neglect. If the guardian is no longer interested in keeping the dog, they consider the loss of their dog as a good riddance. Other way of abandonment is outright outrageous; the dog would be taken to a far-off place and simply be dumped there by the owner mercilessly.
Therefore, the decision to bring up a pup should be as carefully considered as the decision to have a baby; and it should be taken as a commitment. Nurturing a dog requires both quality and quantity time commitment. After all, many dogs live upto 16 years or more. The owner should be responsible for looking after his or her dog; more so not to add to the rampant problem of dogs abandonment in India.
Q : What are the visible signs of pain and trauma an abandoned dog goes through?
AS : Dogs who are abandoned mercilessly struggle for their survival. The thick blanket of love and protection with which they have been wrapped is suddenly snatched from them. They find themselves in a strange world, where they have to fight every time for food, shelter and protection. They starve, freeze, get hit by cars, ingest poison, or are abused by inhuman people. They suffer from infestations of fleas and mange, and deadly, contagious diseases like rabies and parvovirus. The fear and confusion of being separated from their guardians and left in a strange place far from home make many dogs fearful and even aggressive. They often run away from strangers, tuck their tails between their legs, or bare their teeth in fear.
Q : How do they adjust to the new family?
AS : People who adopt an abandoned animal should devote plenty of time to help the dog adjust to his new family and environment. With lots of love, attention and patience, the new furry friend will adjust himself.
Q : Does the law have any special protection for dogs against an owner who may have abandoned his dog?
AS : Abandoning animals, dooming them to a slow, painful death by starvation, illness, or injury, is a serious issue. In India, there is a meagre fine of Rs 50 for someone who treats an animal cruelly. Such a lenient law needs to be made more stringent. Only a harsh punishment or law would actually reduce ill treatment of animals.
Q : What are other ways to stop abandonment?
AS : The proportion of deaths of abandoned animals at shelters, in the streets, alleys, fields, basements, and backyards that occur every year ought not to be taken lightly. Neutering and spaying should be made mandatory.
(Anuradha Sawhney is the Chief Functionary of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. PETA is the largest animal rights organisation in the world. She can be contacted at 022-26281880).