The epidemic of Covid fades in comparison to the rise of abandonment we are witnessing. The abandonment of dogs, breed or otherwise is not a new phenomenon, however, the sharp rise in numbers should concern all of us.
This is not about being a ‘dog lover’ or owner. Abandoning dogs has many consequences on not just the physical and mental well being of that particular dog, but on society as a whole.
Why this epidemic of so many abandoned breed dogs in India?
There are several reasons why we are seeing so many abandoned breed dogs in India:
- Lack of education about responsible pet ownership: Many people in India may not have access to or be aware of information about how to properly care for and train a pet. This can lead to behaviours such as not spaying or neutering their pets, not providing adequate food and shelter, and not socialising their pets properly. Religious beliefs and concerns also play a part in the lax attitude toward sterilisation and immunisation programmes.
- Impulse buying and breed fads: Some people may buy a pet on impulse without fully considering the long-term responsibilities of pet ownership. Additionally, certain breeds may become popular due to media exposure or social trends, leading to an increase in demand for these breeds. When the novelty wears off or when the pet becomes too much to handle, the animal becomes a burden. Let us think back to the Vodafone ads in India which popularised Pugs. Similarly, the movie 101 Dalmatians led to an explosive demand of that breed.
- Financial difficulties: Caring for a pet can be expensive, and some people may not be able to afford the costs associated with pet ownership, such as veterinary care and food.
- Cultural attitudes towards pets: In some parts of India, pets are not members of the family but more a ‘status symbol’. Therefore, they do not receive the same level of care and attention.
- Social Media: Social media influencers and pet accounts must bear some of the responsibility of this epidemic of abandoned pets. They portray dogs only as fun companions on holidays and outings. Of course pets are rewarding to have in our lives, but they are also a lot of hard work and dedication which does not translate on these reels and videos.
Overall, a combination of factors can contribute to the high number of abandoned breed dogs in India. Animal welfare organisations in India are working to address these issues through education, outreach, and rescue efforts.
How many pets in India end up abandoned ?
It is difficult to determine an exact number of pets that end up abandoned in India, as there is no centralised data collection system on this issue. However, animal welfare organisations estimate that the number of abandoned pets in India is quite high. The World Animal Protection organisation, estimates there are 30 million stray dogs in India, many of whom were once pets that are abandoned or lost.
Additionally, there are large numbers of abandoned cats, birds, and other pets in India. The reasons for abandonment can vary, but they often include a lack of education about responsible pet ownership, financial difficulties, and changes in living situations. Animal welfare organisations in India work to rescue and care for abandoned pets and to promote responsible pet ownership.
A spate of ‘dog attacks’ by ‘packs of street dogs’ but there is no mention in so many reports of the contribution of pet dogs let loose on streets by irresponsible owners. It is not uncommon for back yard breeders to abandon dogs past their breeding prime. So the burden of this epidemic of abandonment is in equal parts the responsibility of owners, breeders and the pet community at large.
India’s Epidemic of abandonment of ‘breed dogs’ -How and why?
There are several reasons why people may abandon dogs, and the methods used to abandon them can vary.
- Dumping: This involves leaving the dog in a public place, such as a park or street corner. The dog is often left with no food, water, or shelter and must fend for themselves.
- Surrendering to a shelter: Some people may take their dog to a shelter and surrender them due to financial difficulties. There maybe a change in living situation, or other reasons. However, not all shelters are equipped to handle the influx of animals. Some dogs are euthanized if the shelter is unable to find a suitable home for them.
- Selling or giving away: Some people may try to sell or give away their dog through classified ads or social media. However, this results in the dog passing from owner to owner, and the cycle continues. This often results in aggressive behaviour and the is becomes even more difficult to place.
The reasons for abandoning a dog can vary, but some common reasons include:
- Moving to a new home or city that does not allow pets
- Financial difficulties or inability to afford the costs associated with pet ownership
- Lack of time or resources to properly care for the dog
- Behaviour or training issues that the owner cannot or does not want to deal with. This is often because new pet owners relying on untrained and unprofessional dog walkers.
- Health issues or allergies in the family
- Impulse buying or adoption without considering the long-term responsibilities of pet ownership.
It is important to remember that abandoning a dog is not only cruel but also illegal in many places. India’s lack of law enforcement on owners as well as back yard breeders is greatly responsible for the epidemic of abandonment.
Concluding thoughts on the epidemic of abandonment
We’re in a unique phase of human history. Cultural norms are in flux and human interactions are changing so rapidly that we are struggling to cope.Domestic animals offer us havens of safety. When we do not have the tools to understand and appreciate them, we abuse and abandon.
Dog abandonment is not only the physical act of abandoning a dog, cat or cow, it is a disassociation of your mind and moral compass. Disrespect for another life is the primary reason pets are abandoned.
Cover PhotoCredit: Photo by Suzy Hazelwood: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-lost-dog-sitting-on-grass-4684645/