|SAI RAM, Devotees Around the Globe,Over the last few months there has been confusion, pain and sadness about the alleged killing/poisoning of a group of nine dogs inside the Ashram. I am writing to you to inform you about the larger picture of the lives of street dogs in India, the killing of dogs that still continues by municipalities of cities, towns and by individuals and about the solution: the animal laws and their implementation. Please discuss this in your centre, especially “conclusions and how can you help?” at the end of this Newsletter.
Dog gets first aid treatment at the clinic Indian street dog
India has an open garbage system. In the past in the rural and agricultural society that was not a big problem as all waste was gradually being decomposed and taken back by nature. Here the Indian stray or community dog had its natural function.
Unfortunately, because of the growth of the human population, urbanization and the use of many unnatural materials in the garbage, the picture has changed dramatically. Municipalities are not able to control the garbage and the huge landfills outside towns are choking with garbage that cannot be composted. Garbage is left everywhere on the streets and backyards, and the local residents do not have a solution for their garbage management.
The number of dogs in India is closely connected with the amount of food/garbage available.
Indian dogs are scavengers. They roam around, they know what to eat and how to survive. They live in packs/families and have their own territory which can be quite extensive. Indian dogs love their freedom and are independent free spirits. When they befriend human beings, they are good watchdogs and make wonderful pets.
As the number of dogs is equally growing with the amount of garbage in the cities, the municipalities have always resorted to mass killing of dogs to protect the human population from nuisance, dog bites and rabies. This has never solved the problem, as the dog population grows explosively after the killings, filling up the open space. Millions of dogs have been sacrificed over time without result. In most cities and towns there is still an overpopulation of dogs and a failing garbage management system.
There is only one scientific, internationally accepted way to control the stray dog population and to protect the people from bites and rabies, and that is a systematic sterilization and anti rabies vaccination program – where the sterilized dogs are returned to their own territory to keep other intruders out and thus create “safe” areas.
In 2001, thanks to Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, then minister, the “dog rules 2001” came into force as part of the animal laws and the PCA act (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (see link HERE).
Implementation of the ABC/AR Program (Animal Birth Control/Anti-Rabies Program)
Although the solution is there, the implementation is a huge problem. The ABC program requires facilities like operation theatres, shelters, trained veterinary doctors, huge amounts of money and the willingness to do a job good.
In the cities, the ABC program is mostly conducted by the municipality in coordination with the local Animal Welfare Societies (AWO). Mismanagement, unskilled veterinary doctors, lack of funds and infrastructure problems have caused the failure of many efforts and have cost many a dog its life.
Even in cities where the ABC program is successful like Chennai, Vishakapatnam, Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, it seems almost impossible to work up to the large numbers of stray dogs in the expanding cities. In the rest of the country, old practices continue.
In Puttaparthi and surrounding villages Karuna Society has already sterilized almost 9000 dogs. All dogs, mostly females which are sterilized, can be recognized by the clip in the right ear. Almost no new puppies are being born and anti rabies vaccination is being conducted on an annual basis.
Roshni bringing in a street dog for Dogs waiting for their surgery
Shaving and preparing the dog before Surgery following standard operating
The Karuna clinic provides first aid for injured and sick animals and many local farmers and poor people bring their sick or injured dogs for free treatment. Because of our 15 year service to the community, there is a growing awareness among the population about their animals.
It is crystal clear that in Puttaparthi there is no need for anybody to kill a dog. Whenever it happens, it is mostly for the following reasons:
1. Fear of dog bites and a deadly fear of rabies. If people are not informed and they don’t know where to turn with their problems, they might resort to killing. This happens mostly by pesticide. The larger municipalities on the other hand have special people who use a human medication to inject the dogs in passing and the dogs are dead within minutes.
2. The other reason is the threat to loss of livelihood. Poor people who own goats kill dogs if a dog kills one of the goats or baby goats. They lace the dead body with pesticide and throw it to any number of dogs that will eat it. These people are uneducated, never heard that killing of dogs is illegal and they only think about their goats without giving them proper protection.
Recently nine dogs were killed like this in Kammavaripalli, a village next to Puttaparthi. Four of the dogs were owners’ dogs.
Karuna Society has prepared a police complaint and we will also contact the Animal Husbandry department, as they are in touch with the goat owners.
Implementation of the Animal Laws
Many awareness programs are being conducted at present about the animal laws by Animal Welfare Organizations, for police personnel, government officials, municipalities and for the general public.
With the growing awareness, people are encouraged to file cases at the police station in case of cruelty, animal sacrifice, cow slaughter and many other offences. Here we run into the same problem of implementation. The judicial system is completely clogged up. Without being able to process the cases, they take years before they are heard, in the meantime requiring many days of attendance, losing working days and incurring many expenses.
On one hand the public is encouraged to take up justice for animals, on the other hand the police have instructions NOT to file cases as they simply cannot be processed. The police are requested by the higher authorities to solve the problems on a local level.
This is not very encouraging if you seek justice for an animal that cannot speak for itself.
One of the volunteers of Karuna Society had given a complaint at the police station about the dead dogs in the Ashram, but the officer refused to take it.
Karuna Society has a lot of experience with police and the judicial system. Rescued cattle cases are still in court. The case for our Camel, rescued from slaughter 8 years ago, is still pending in High Court. Before a Judge is able to rule, the camel might already have a natural death. We have been many times to the police station complaining about animal sacrifice, cutting of the ears of puppies which is a custom here, and other offences. Our lastest case is the rescue of the 146 cattle from illegal transport to slaughter. They are with us and adding up our cattle herd to 450!
Within two months our Animal Rights case will be heard for the “Plastic Cow” at the Supreme Court in New Delhi against the Union Government of India for cruelty against animals.
In the 15 years that Karuna Society is active in Puttaparthi to serve the animals, we have never heard of any killing of an animal in the ashram, although there are regular complaints by overseas devotees and visitors about dog bites and nuisance. In the past, when there were many more dogs and puppies in the ashram, many diseased and sick, the Ashram management resorted to removal of the dogs but this has stopped as it is illegal and not effective. The situation has greatly improved thanks to our ABC program and the First Aid Clinic.
Recently board members of Karuna had two meetings with the Ashram authorities. First three officials visited our clinic and we discussed the problems and possible solutions. The second time the meeting included the Secretary of the SSS Baba Trust, Mr. Prasad Rao, and we met at his office.
We came to the conclusion that the ashram authorities understand the “dog rules” and its importance.
At present there are around 30 resident dogs in the Ashram. It is acknowledged that these dogs have the right to be there and will be fed by ashram residents. Visiting dogs should not be encouraged to hang around by feeding them. Most of them have owners in the village and should return home. Visitors are discouraged to feed any dog.
How Can You Help?
- Do not feed dogs in the ashram. Feeding them makes them dependent on ashram food and gives rise to packs of dogs that are then considered a nuisance due to their aggressive and noisy behavior. These dogs also provoke fear among ashram residents and visiting devotees.
- Keep an eye out for any dog in distress and inform Karuna Society or bring the animal to the clinic.
- Report any unsterilised female – the ones that do not have a small clip in their right ear.
- If you come to India, make sure you are vaccinated against Rabies.
SAMASTHA LOKA SUKHINO BHAVANTU