Feral dogs are no longer ubiquitous in Hyderabad. Yes, you see them occasionally, and like so many dogs in India they are often lame, having learned the hard way that their paws are no match for a rickshaw or car. But they are not everywhere, and I believe the credit for this goes primarily to Blue Cross of Hyderabad, Amala’s amazing animal rescue center that has proactively taken on sterilising thousands of animals around the city.
Unfortunately, animal welfare organisations cannot use the same techniques to limit the spread of cruel people who, often unknowingly, are contributing to the abuse of animals in a systemic manner. Three specific areas come to mind.
The first area is the purchasing of exotic animals. Ever seen, for example, a German Shepherd being walked down the streets of Hyderabad? There are so many things wrong with this picture it’s difficult to know where to begin to dissect it. A German Shepherd in Hyderabad? Do their owners not pick-up on the fact that the Sheppard’s hair is really thick and really long, and is better suited to the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas than to the searing roads of Hyderabad? If you’re not convinced, then try to wear a fur coat in, say, June in Hyderabad and you’ll have a fair idea of what it’s like to be a German Shepherd here.
And I also wonder, have the dog’s owners not done any research into the breed whatsoever? Because if they did they would quickly learn that a large percentage of German Shepherds (and other commercially bred show dogs) have been so in-bred by breeders that hip-displacer and other genetic disorders are pretty much standard equipment now.
Simply put, buying an exotic pet sustains an animal breeding industry that is heartless towards the very creatures in which it trades. You want a great dog? Pay an animal shelter like Blue Cross a visit, and they’ll set you up with a robust, climate-tested puppy with all its shots that will be so grateful to you for giving it a great home that it will love you forever! And by the way — the puppy from Blue Cross will be a thousandth of the price, too.
And that brings me to my second point, the treatment of such exotic animals once they are purchased. Almost daily, on my drive home from work, I see some dog owner walking their dog, yanking away at its leash like they are pulling a car that’s stuck in mud. Do they not understand that the dog is made of flesh and bones, just like they are? If every dog owner in India were forced to be walked on a leash like a dog just once, the amount of cruelty to these animals would be cut by at least half.
But such cruelty doesn’t end with dogs. Exotic pet stores all over the world sell, well, exotic everything — birds and reptiles, monkeys and cats. How many people out there really know how to take care of an African Grey Parrot? Or a Squirrel Monkey?
These creatures require specialised training to be raised properly, and few owners ever receive any training at all. The result is animals that either die young or are released into a climate they are not suited for when the owner realises they got more than they bargained for.
And do any of these owners give any thought to what these creatures endured to be transported from Africa or South America to some rich person’s home in India or the United States? I can assure you, the animal does not travel first class.
And that brings me to my third issue, the cruel treatment of the wild dogs that do roam the streets. I have seen people throw rock and sticks and even bottles at dogs almost as though they are using the animals as target practice. The lack of empathy in this scene is startling — do these people not understand that animals feel pain, just like we do? How would they like to be a target one day for such ill-treatment?
To buy an exotic dog to show it off to friends is a kind of egoism that has no place in our world. To buy such a creature and not be prepared to care for it properly is a kind of neglect that should be met with fines and scorn. To actually throw a bottle or stone at such a creature should land the thrower in jail.
You can reach The Anonymous Alien at AnonymousAlieninIndia@gmail.com