I have talked earlier about how pets are for life. But in this article, I’m going to emphasise this aspect even more. Being a part of various animal activist groups, on a daily basis, I’m bombarded with photographs of sad, bewildered, lost-looking dogs who have been abandoned by their cruel owners. Many a time, they are tied up outside an animal shelter. Others face an even worse fate – they are just left on the road to fend for themselves. Most often, these are pedigreed dogs who’ve spent their lives within a home. They have no idea of how to fend for themselves on the roads. Many get killed or badly injured; the lucky ones are rescued by some kind soul. It is truly heart breaking.
There are other owners who give up their dogs for a variety of reasons. It could be that they are moving to another city or country. It could be that they discover that they cannot take care of a dog – either they lack the resources or the time or realise that having a dog is not just fun and games; it involves responsibility. Then there are couples, who when they discover they are having a child, put their dog up for adoption. Others face problems in the apartment blocks they are living in, where residents or the association harass them for having a dog. At least, in most of these cases, the owners contact a rescue group or ask their friends to find their dogs a home. The dogs are not callously discarded on the road. Nevertheless, it is still traumatic for a dog, especially when they are not puppies. By then, they have formed a strong attachment to their owners and when they are suddenly uprooted from their safe space, they find it difficult to adjust.
What I find most cruel is abandoning old or sick dogs. And believe me, there are many people who do this. When the dog is healthy, they are happy to shower it with love and show it off to friends, neighbours and relatives. But when the dog falls sick or becomes old, requiring extra care, these heartless people give up on their pets. They abandon them or just tell their vets that they can’t afford to treat the illness or can’t spare the time to look after them. I always think to myself – karma is a bitch. What you do will come around. I wonder how these people would feel if their children abandoned them when they grow old?
So, I’m just going to point out a few things to all you dog lovers out there:
A dog is for life: If you plan on getting a dog, you need to be prepared to look after him for ten to fifteen years, which is the average lifespan of most dogs. This means that it could be difficult to travel or even socialise the way you used to. But these days, there are so many good kennels where you can leave your dog. You can also train your dog to stay at home when you go out. Most cry initially, but once they are used to it, they settle down. They may sulk – mine do all the time when I go out – but they’ll be okay.
Never abandon your dog: If you really have to give her up, please contact a rescue group or pass the word around on social media that you are looking for a home for your dog. Never leave her on the streets. It’s downright cruelty. She cannot fend for herself, she is scared, people throw stones at her, she has no food or water. Can you really be soheartless?
Shelters are not places for pedigreed dogs: Pedigree dogs come with many health issues. They are not as sturdy as Indies. So, when you put them in a shelter, chances of them contracting infections and diseases are high. Many pedigreed dogs end up dying in shelters because their immune system is not strong enough to withstand the conditions in a shelter. Hence, if you plan on giving your dog away, find him a good home. That’s the least you can do for your loyal, loving fur baby.
Look after you dog when she is old or sick: Would you throw your kids out onto the road if they are sick? Would you abandon your aged parents? You wouldn’t, right? Then why is it okay to abandon a helpless sick or old dog? That’s when they need all the love, care and attention. I’m dealing with a partially disabled dog for the past two years. Is it easy? No. It can be frustrating at times. My social life is negligible since I need to plan my outings based on Hotdog’s timings. He is now nearing fourteen years and is slow, stubborn and needy. I’ve stopped travelling on vacation. But you know what? I chose to have him in my life. And he’s brought me untold joy. So, it is my duty to look after him when he is old and give him the best quality of life I can. And of course, shower him with lots of love.
No apartment association can ask you to get rid of your dog: There are guidelines set by the Animal Welfare Board where if any association bans pets, ‘it will be equivalent to the association interfering with a fundamental freedom guaranteed to the citizens of India’. However, you need to be a responsible owner and ensure that your dog doesn’t trouble other residents. (More on that next time).
Remember, dogs are pack animals and for them we are their family. They love us unconditionally. Isn’t it our duty to keep them happy, loved and safe?