Caring for ‘streeties’

Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 16, 2014, 09.50 PM IST

 Last weekend, a few of the dog lovers turned up at home and we painted 20 odd urns that we had bought with donations from animal lovers across the city. People from different parts of the city will be taking the urns back to install them near their homes or offices, and are taking the responsibility of filling them up with water for our street dogs. My hope is that the brightly painted pots will attract attention and inspire more people to do the same outside their homes too.

The good news is that there is a segment of our society that’s comfortable sharing this planet with all of its children. And why not? That is the Indian way, is it not? We are largely a tolerant society and embrace all of earth’s bounty with gratitude and magnanimity. The question really is how do we minimise man-animal conflict.

Let me start off by busting some myths about our street dogs. Getting rid of street dogs or relocating them to other parts of the city is not legal in our country. Whether we like it or not, our street dogs are here to stay with us.

Getting rid of one group of dogs only means that we have opened up our streets for a new group to move in. That brings with it a set of new conflicts and the tedious task of building familiarity with a new pack.

Dogs are extreme survivors. Not feeding them does not mean they will starve. It only means they will find other sources of food mainly in garbage. So, let’s get this straight once and for all — street dogs are here to stay.

The best thing we can do for the dogs is keep a check on their population, make them healthy and happy. If you are finding new pups in the area, that means some dogs have not been neutered or spayed. Find a group of volunteers and animal lovers, scout the area, find the dogs that need to be spayed/neutered, identify the local BBMP-tendered Animal Welfare Organisation (AWO) and get the procedure done at the earliest. Do this with diligence and the street dog population will remain stable for the next decade.

Familiarise yourself with the streeties in your neighbourhood. Dogs are great friends and fiercely guard friends. They are easy to befriend too. Visit the dogs a few times, toss some biscuits and you will get a loyal friend for life. There is more than one instance where I have heard of dogs thwarting the evil schemes of burglars. If you live in an independent home or have to return home late at night, nothing better to protect you than your doggy friends on the road.

Well-fed, healthy dogs are happy dogs. Reach out to your AWO to get all the dogs vaccinated. Government provides this for free. So use the available tools. Feed them regularly and provide water during summer. If there are many dogs, enlist the help of animal lovers to break up the pack and feed them in different areas, to avoid doggy-fights for food. Just like with humans, well-fed dogs sleep well at night. But unlike your human friends, dogs, no matter how well-fed they are, will still maintain vigil for you all night. Win-win.

And, finally, get a grip on speed limits on narrow roads. Dogs are hunters by nature and they cannot help chasing after speeding bikes.
When I used to ride a bike, I would stop, look at the barking dogs and ask: “Yeah? May I help you?” They would look confused and lose interest in me.

India has a long history of peaceful co-existence. That’s the beauty of our culture. Let’s remain true to our nature. And nature has a way of balancing things as long as we play it fair. Spare a thought to other children of this earth.

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