Stray dogs are a common sight on streets, some stray dogs are cared for either by the roadside shop owners and even other people, but some are left with no option but to only look for food in the garbage. Unfortunately, sometimes, this is the case with humans too; the ones who are privileged generally live a good life but there are also humans who are not privileged and are even forced to live on the streets.
But the main problem which needs to be highlighted is how these stray dogs are treated with cruelty. There are a few cases that have occurred in the past few weeks which highlight this issue.
Just a few days back, dead bodies of over 90 dogs were discovered by the police authorities in Buldhana, Maharashtra in very poor condition. As per the police officials, the dogs had muzzles on their mouths and their legs were tied with strings; few dogs were found alive and, later, sent for treatment. The police officials have started an investigation and have already registered a case against unknown killers, but still, this is not a single case.
A few weeks back, a stray dog sought shelter in the Turf View building which is located near Nehru Planetarium and that same dog was beaten by the security guards of that building on the instructions of a resident. The dog was beaten so brutally that it died in a few days, succumbing to injuries. The Mumbai police officials were quick to take action against the accused guards by arresting them but, all thanks to weak animal protection laws, they were later released on bail.
The cases don’t end here. Last year in Kerala, around 26 stray dogs were killed and, still, the only action taken was that the culprits were arrested for some time and then released on bail.
These actions only go on to prove why there is an urgent need to strengthen the animal protection laws because if this is not done, these crimes against stray dogs will not stop.
It is not only the stray dogs that are falling victims, but even the people who feed the stray dogs are harassed – either by their neighbours or sometimes the society members. There have been few personal instances where I too have been in confrontational situations while feeding the stray dogs in my society. I don’t mean to boast about feeding dogs but I would still say that the society in which I have been living for many years has a few stray dogs.
They are generally quite friendly with the residents, and I have been feeding them for the past 5-6 years. Even the society members know that, but they have always been supportive and people who are not supportive, don’t interfere or disturb me while I am feeding the dogs. But, every society has a few people who always interfere. I still remember, a long time ago, while I was feeding a dog in my society, two gentlemen came and started asking me as to why was I feeding them.
I replied that I had been feeding them for years. They harshly retorted asking me to not do it; it was at this moment that I told them about the stray dogs’ protection laws which they were unaware about.
Our laws state that:
Even after stating the laws, the two gentlemen were justifying themselves by saying that dogs are a nuisance, how children play in the area and also said that if I wish to feed the dogs, then I should take them to my home (the general dialogue people who are not fond of feeding dogs make). I replied by asking them to state one incident where the dogs had attacked children or others, without provocation. I made it clear that what they were asking me to do was clearly against the laws. They continued arguing, but I continued to feed the dogs too.
I am quite sure that these kinds of confrontations are a daily occurrence in many societies, but the question is what is the solution? As per my opinion, if there are laws that allow people to feed the dogs inside a society, others should respect it. And, for a moment, let us consider the argument that dogs are a nuisance, children play in the area where dogs stay, that dogs are unhygienic, and people are afraid of them.
To address these issues, the people who feed the dogs should ensure that whenever they feed the dogs, the dogs should finish the whole meal and not leave leftovers on the streets; they should also ensure that they feed the dogs at a time when there is less human traffic or movement; that the dogs are not in the vicinity of garbage area, because it has been observed that the dogs who eat from garbage dumps are generally aggressive.
If we read about any stray dog biting incident, we might observe that the dog belonged to an area which is not tidy and the dog has been surviving on garbage for food. To solve this, it is necessary for every individual to see to it that no open garbage is lying in nearby areas and people must take initiative to feed proper pet food to these stray dogs. It has also been observed that dogs who are fed pet food are calmer in comparison to the dogs who survive on garbage. But the problem arises when even educated people harm these dogs and then try to justify their actions as solutions.
The cases I mentioned earlier totally prove this factor. Whenever I come across such people, I always try to convince them about how this problem can be solved, but if they still don’t understand, I just tell them one thing, “Even mob lynching gangs come up with some justification or the other, but this does not mean they are correct”.
I also hope that with such an enormous increase in cases of cruelty against stray dogs, the government bodies begin taking stringent actions to ensure that the culprits are given tough punishments.