I’m a serious dog lover and the situation I found as I arrived in India has been eating away at me. It’s breaking my heart, more and more every day. It doesn’t matter if I’m walking through Auroville, sitting at the hostel, or eating at a restaurant, stray dogs are everywhere.
I’ve visited cities where stray cats are running rampant, but never have I ever seen so many helpless dogs. From the absolutely tiniest puppies to full grown matted muts, they are emaciated, hungry and in need of a loving home. Most of the free-roaming dogs are of an ancient canine race known as the Pariah Dog, which exist all over Asia and Africa. In addition to being scavengers who live mostly on human-created garbage, they are often kept as pets by rural and urban slum households.
Most of the dogs I see roaming around are covered in mange, fleas and ticks with chunks of hair missing all over and dark bloody scabs. They are also typically very thin with most of their ribs popping out. Every time I see one of the dogs, my initial instinct is to run over and give them the best petting of their life, but I restrain myself. I want to feed all of them and take them home to give them all the life my dog has. Every dog deserves a warm fluffy bed, fresh food, water and basic health care.
It’s not uncommon to see an adult dog lying with her freshly birthed puppies on the sides of the roads or near food markets. It’s so sad to see them struggling from the second they are born. The outlook for their lives are so grim.
India is home to nearly 30 million stray dogs and in 2012 WHO estimated that India had around 20,000 rabies cases. These numbers are not only heart breaking, but should be an alarming wake up call to the Indian government to create change. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has been trying to implement the recently approved National Rabies Control Pilot Project, however due to lack of governmental funds and outdated policies, the program has remained stagnant. NGO’s around the country are working hard, but without needed funding, cannot fully implement the program. It’s very expensive to vaccinate and sterilize the dogs, not to mention that there are so few NGO’s in comparison to the excessive amount of dogs. It takes a lot of effort to control the disease and the overpopulation.
With a population of over two billion people, millions of which have no guaranteed food, water or shelter, it may be hard to justify spending precious time and resources on saving the dogs of India. But, all hope is not lost. In the nation’s capital of New Delhi, police officers have been dispatched to safely collect and find homes for hundreds of street dogs. The dogs will be given proper care and veterinary attention before they begin training to become service dogs. The thought is to control the street dogs, giving them purpose by engaging them with society to benefit the people.
I’m not sure if this issue will ever be fully resolved, but with the right plan of action and support, many dogs could be saved and sheltered.