The Stray', a film by Mitch Davis, tells the tale of a dog who arrives like a bolt from the blue to save a family ready to fall apart. It indeed tugs at the heartstrings. In real life, not all dogs are that lucky to find a home. Neither are cats!
The city sees hundreds of canines on the roads. Some starve to death while many are run over. A few guardian angels take it upon themselves to rescue them the right way and give them a home. However, when it comes to ordinary citizens, the rescue is sometimes not done the right way, more often doing more harm than good.
Sanjana Madanna, who works with CUPA, says, "Don't just pick up any puppy from the street and send it to a shelter just because it has a sad and forlorn look. Shelters can be dangerous places with no immunity at all and most of them are overflowing with rescued dogs, with no space at all."
The idea, she says, is to help the animals co-exist on the streets. "There is a natural selection process. The fittest will survive. What you can do is feed the dogs once a day, vaccinate and sterilise them. For them to survive with 50 to 60 dogs in a shelter is terrible. You can rescue injured dogs, treat them and send them back to the streets. Also, keep supporting community dogs," she adds.
Debadrita Jadhav, a homemaker, has now around 70 dogs apart from cats which she has rescued. The founder of Precious Paws Foundation, she has a shelter off Kanakapura Road for the rescued pets. But rescuing and giving them homes is not an easy job, she says.
"Finding a home for an Indie is very difficult, especially if it crosses three months. I have now around 70 dogs in my shelter," she says.
"Indies are hunting dogs and adapt themselves to street life. So shelter is not needed for healthy Indies. And if it is a healthy dog, it is not right to put them in the four walls of a shelter. The best way is to sterilise the dog and put it back on the street and feed it once a day."
Debadrita points out how the abandonment rates are very high. "It's impractical to rehabilitate all the dogs. It is the same problem with cats. People just call up and say ''my cat has littered, please come and take them''. Also, lot of people want to adopt kittens because they look so adorable. But once they become adults, there are not many to take them."
Do Indies always get a raw deal? Is there a snob value attached to pedigree dogs? "Hundred percent," says Sanjana.
"I have people calling me up and asking whether I have foreign breeds to give away. One should remember that it is Indies that adapt best to our climate. They are intelligent and it's very sad to see how they are discriminated. We have this fascination for anything foreign and that should change.'' Indie cats too are discriminated. "When it comes to Indie and Persian cats, the Persian cats are adopted very quickly. It's all about the mindset," Debadrita rues.
Dr Yateesh Chandra, a veterinarian, has much to point out from his experiences. "What I have found is that everyone likes a pure breed and there is basically an aversion towards street dogs. There are people who are very afraid of dogs. Their worry is whether the dog is vaccinated or whether it has any deadly disease. Some just feel that the dogs are generally dirty."
"As far as the pet parents are concerned, it is important to understand that the animal mind does not work like the human mind. I have done behaviour studies of animals and would suggest pet parents go through a behavioural course to understand their pets better. As far as Indies are concerned, they live in a group and are most comfortable in the natural environment. Feed them but domesticating the healthy ones can make them very uncomfortable," he says.
"I hate to say this but in this country, there is an irresponsible attitude towards everything that does not concern us. Well-being is not just for us but for everyone around and that includes animals too. It is an individual's responsibility to ensure that animals have as much a right as we do. Ultimately, they are the ones who are adjusting to us in a big way."