Pet owners are partly responsible for stray dog populations how can we as a community help stem this? This is not a popular opinion and a strong statement to make. However, faced with the size of a stray dog population in India and the rise in pet ownership these are issues we must face. A stray dog is any homeless dog – not only mongrels or mixed breeds.
Pet ownership in India is skyrocketing which means we can apply the basic economic principles of demand and supply. People are demanding pets as well as products and services relating to pet care.
There are several ways in which breed dogs can become stray dogs. Here are some common scenarios:
- Abandonment: Some owners deliberately abandoned breed dogs. This can happen due to various reasons such as financial constraints, inability to care for the dog, moving to a place that doesn’t allow pets, or simply irresponsible ownership.
- Escapes: Dogs may escape from their homes or yards due to inadequate containment or negligence on the part of the owner. They might find an opportunity to wander off. If they are not promptly found or returned, they can become stray dogs.
- Loss: Dogs can get lost during walks, outings, or other circumstances. They may become disoriented, unable to find their way back home, and end up as strays.
- Inhumane breeding practices: Irresponsible breeding practices, such as puppy mills, can contribute to the stray dog population. These operations prioritize profit over the welfare of the animals. They discard or abandon dogs that are no longer profitable or needed for breeding.
- Natural disasters or conflicts: In situations like natural disasters, wars, or conflicts, dogs can become separated from their owners or left behind due to evacuations or displacement. They may then roam the streets and become stray dogs.
It’s important to note that not all stray dogs were initially breed dogs. Some stray dogs may have been born as strays if their parents were also strays or feral dogs. Additionally, mixed-breed dogs are often found among the stray dog population.
To help prevent breed dogs from becoming strays, responsible pet ownership is crucial. This includes ensuring secure containment, proper identification (such as microchipping), spaying or neutering to prevent unwanted litters, and providing appropriate care and attention to meet the dog’s needs.
Dog breeding industry and the stray dog population
The dog breeding industry itself is not solely responsible for creating stray dog populations. But irresponsible breeding practices and the lack of responsible ownership can contribute to the issue.
Irresponsible breeding practices, such as puppy mills or backyard breeding, can lead to overbreeding and the production of large numbers of puppies without proper care or consideration for their well-being. Puppies that are not properly socialized, vaccinated, or given appropriate care, may end up being abandoned or surrendered. This is another factor contributing to the stray dog population.
Lack of spaying/neutering:
Failure to spay or neuter dogs can result in accidental or unplanned litters. When owners do not adequately care for these puppies or unwilling to find suitable homes for them, they may end up as strays.
Economic challenges can play a role in the creation of stray dog populations. In some cases, people who can no longer afford to care for their dogs may abandon them, contributing to the stray population. Economic instability can also affect the demand for dogs, leading to a surplus of unwanted dogs that can become strays.
Lack of responsible ownership:
Irresponsible ownership practices, such as neglect, abandonment, or failure to properly contain dogs, can contribute to dogs becoming strays. When owners do not take responsibility for their pets, it increases the likelihood of dogs ending up on the streets.
Irresponsible dog walkers and house help
Pet ownership in India is unique in one aspect, it is a rare “pet parent” who takes on the responsibility of walking their dogs. It is usually the job of live in house help or a dog walker. The reality of this means an untrained person who has no understanding of dog behviour is in charge of your pet on the street. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous individuals to allow unsterilised dogs to mate with street dogs. Worse still back yard breeders team up with easy targets and use your dogs to breed.
It’s important to note that responsible and ethical dog breeders who prioritize the welfare of their animals and carefully screen potential owners can help reduce the stray dog population. Additionally, initiatives promoting spaying/neutering, responsible pet ownership education, and accessible veterinary care can also play a significant role in preventing dogs from becoming strays.
Is there a solution?
Addressing the issue of stray dog populations requires a multi-faceted approach involving responsible breeding practices, public awareness, legislation, and support for animal welfare organizations that work towards spaying/neutering, adoption, and rehabilitation of stray dogs. Education always plays a major role in making children and adults aware of situations. When schools and universities hold awareness campaigns the population is better off. Neighbourhoods that come together to care for street animal populations with responsible feeding and inoculation campaigns see noticeable differences. There is not only a marked decline in populations both the people and animals are able to live harmoniously.