Make Animal Welfare a Priority, Thereby Helping To Make The City Safer For All

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It was a sunny June morning, with the weather good enough to make a perfect day. And a perfect day it was; at least for the first few hours. I noticed something amiss when I left my house to attend a friend's birthday breakfast.

One of the seven stray dogs living in my neighbourhood had been hit by a car, and his leg was clearly broken. He was lying surrounded by a crowd of people, drawn by his anguished howls, who were debating whether to seek aid or to pelt him. Most only cared to make the noise stop. 

A fellow neighbour, who used to take care of these strays, intervened and the two of us decided to take the injured dog to a government vet. But how could we do that? His leg was badly hurt, he could barely stand, and the vet couldn't possibly reach here because the veterinary government hospital had no vehicle. So we chose to do what seemed to be the most reasonable thing at that moment, and carried him to the hospital on foot. 

Twenty minutes and a kilometre long walk later, we reached the hospital. We were told, later on, that the internal injuries were too great and the poor creature had to be euthanized.

According to the head veterinarian, ours was the third incident of a stray dog being the victim of an automobile injury on that very day. He also told us that of all the cases that are reported, 90% are due to automobile injuries. It was evident that Indian commuters, who cared so little about their fellow humans, cared about dogs not at all.

Birthday party long forgotten, I felt a profound sadness for the plight of mankind’s closest companions. Though I was covered in sweat and possibly lice, what bothered me more was that most stray dogs would die alone and unmourned, never having had a decent meal in their life. Who were so vulnerable to their surroundings that their survival was a matter of luck, and any random speeding vehicle could spell their doom. Who were so valueless that even the government doctors who were meant to treat them, weren’t provided with basic mobility to let them get to animals in need.

It is funny how some of life's most humbling experiences occur when you least expect them to.

In the next few months we got together with several organisations who worked for animal welfare. Our Sunday mornings were often spent volunteering at Government veterinary hospitals, and getting a deeper understanding of the actual problem.

After all this time, and some valuable insight from various social workers in the city, we have prepared a list of several practices that should be implemented immediately.

Steps that must be taken to advocate animal welfare programs can fall into two major categories:

  1. Sterilisation & Vaccination
  2. Animal Health Care 

Sterilisation & Vaccination

Sterilisation of street dogs, which is the surgical removal of their sex organs and;

Administration of an Anti Rabies Vaccine, prior to the dogs being released in the same area where they were picked up from, must be carried out by the local government authorities.

Some points related to Animal Birth Control Programme are as follows:

  • Getting dogs sterilised is the best form of welfare we can all do for street dogs, as these dogs will be vaccinated in the process and will not have to give birth to pups anymore. It will not only reduce the misery caused to the new ones by humans, but also reduce their general population, in turn making the streets safer.
  • Sterilisation helps calm the dogs down and restricts their numbers.
  • It reduces anxiety and the habit to run away or to attack other animals, people or even furniture.
  • It increases their concentration and attention span, thus also reducing the risk of automobile injuries.
  • It avoids many terminal illnesses like testicular tumours, tumours of the hepatoid glands, and cysts, among others.
  • It eliminates the possibility of contracting cancer of the ovaries or the uterus (the number one cause of death amongst unspayed females).

It must be noted that only dogs above the age of 4 months can be picked up for sterilisation. And the right ear of sterilised dogs is notched/cut at the tip as a mark of identification.

The laws governing Street Dog Sterilisation in India:

Government of India notified the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 vide the Gazette of India: Extra Ordinary Part II – Sec. 3 – sub section.II dated 24th December 2001 to implement sterilisation and vaccination of street/community dogs to control the dog population.

As per Indian law, street dogs cannot be beaten, killed or driven away or displaced or dislocated, they can only be sterilised in the manner envisaged in the The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 enacted under the Indian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (A Central Act), vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations.

Rule 6 and Rule 7 of The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, state as follows:

Rule 6 clearly envisages that even if the Municipal Corporation thinks it expedient to control street dog populations; it cannot restore to killing or dislocating. It can only sterilise and immunise the dogs, and then leave them at the locations that they had been picked up from.

Rule 7 deals with the procedure to be followed upon receipt of a complaint. Please also note, the Municipality, cannot just pick up dogs, simply because some persons/administrators don’t like their being around. Even the dogs that are complained about can only be sterilised and immunised, and then left back at the locations that they had been picked up from.

Please note there is a specific bar against dislocating dogs, since the same tends to interfere with and jeopardise the area-wise animal birth control. For the area-wise sterilisation program mandated by law, dogs have to be returned back to their original habitat after sterilisation and immunisation. Dislocation of street dogs has time and again proven to be counter-productive and only favours the entry of other non-sterilised street dogs into the area, thus raising more cases of man-animal conflict.

Animal Health Care

Local government veterinary hospitals have substandard infrastructure, and are hardly equipped with enough facilities to help the animals in need.  Even though there are laws regarding animal welfare and health care, the lack of awareness about them in the general public makes it harder for them to be implemented. Therefore the following steps must be taken:

  • Government veterinary hospitals in the Lucknow city must be well equipped with medical supplies in accordance to the animal population of that area.
  • They must be provided with at least one government vehicle, and a driver, to facilitate door-to-door service, and immediate aid to animals which cannot be brought to the hospital.
  • The hospitals must be given decent financially support to take care of the expenses of medicines, medical treatments, and vehicular assistance.
  • A toll free number should be set up to provide 24/7 assistance.
  • The topic of animal welfare must be included as a part of the curriculum taught in schools, to increase public awareness.    

By carrying out neutering drives regularly, and giving our hospitals a little more support, we can create overwhelming change.

And we hope that you will help bring this change. We hope that you'll understand the pathetic conditions these pitiful creatures face each day, and do a little something to make their lives better. They say that the greatest test of a man’s character is how they treat their lesser.

For mankind, this test comes in the form of our canine companions.

A dog’s heart contains nothing but love, and it pains me to see these noble animals suffer needlessly in our streets.

Friends, let us come together and make a change!