Day 86: too angry?
Yesterday, a good friend asked of my last blog: who was I angry with exactly?
Surely not the dogs …and surely not the Indians either, after all many are too poor to be able to care for dogs. And hey, in the West we also treat them badly.
Well, I think my anger was aimed at humans in general – if that is even possible. Maybe I was firing my semi-automatic frustration into the sky but let me try to explain
A broken contract
We have, as humans, broken our contract with dogs.
All those millennia ago we took them on as partners: if they would help us (as hunters, companions, protectors) we would help them (as providers, carers, leaders).
But now, as we find ourselves in homes with television and burgular alarms, the vast majority of dogs around the world find themselves out on the street sniffing through our discarded rubbish. And before you loving pet owners protest, there are more strays than there are pets, so although I’m grateful that you look after Buster it’s not the whole point. The majority of dogs live a painful, marginal existence.
A solution to suffering
The sad thing is, we have the power to change this but don’t always choose to do so.
The single, overwhelming issue that causes suffering to dogs around the world is over-population. Too many pooches. I’ve said this as many times as a stray dog breeds in its short lifetime.
Overpopulation leads to disease, starvation, sickness – and most crucially – to us humans considering them dogs as dirty, smelly enemies. Rabies doesn’t help with the PR issue. I’m not sure what I would do if a frothing dog sat on my doorstep either.
But there is a solution – if not immediate then on the distant horizon. We can choose to pursue it.
The answer is not to cull dogs. It is to neuter – and out here this costs as little as £8 per dog.
Too much money!! Shoot the vermin!!! Not viable in third world or developing countries!
Culling leads to bald patches in the population, vacuums which are quickly filled by dogs that take advantage of the competition-free land and surplus (discarded) food. Soon the population comes back. Culling is a sticking plaster on a broken limb.
Neutering on the other hand is not only more humane but also more effective in the long term – after time and with proper investment it offers the greatest change of bringing the population under control.
What about that frothing dog on my doorstep?
Culling is still a no-no, even with Rabies. WSPA has proven over and over with its red-collar campaign that vaccination, if done well, can drastically reduce the incidence of rabies in humans as well as dogs more effectively than shooting or poisoning.
And, yes, I am angry with the way that some Indians treat their dogs too.
Poverty and cultural sensitivies aside, it’s bloody awful.
I realize this will piss a load of you off. How dare I sit on top of my imperialist horse (which no doubt I have beaten for years with my cow-hide whip). Yes there is awful crap going down all over the world with dogs (including puppy farms in her majesty’s Britain) and yes there is an awful lot of poverty in India but it doesn’t make the situation over here any better or even excusable.
Before you bite me with rabid anger let me explain a little of what is happening out here – in Kerala in particular, and in India in general
- India has GREAT animal welfare laws. The problem is few people give a shit. Particularly in Kerala.
- Dogs are frequently stoned, abandoned, tied to trees, ignored if they are sick or injured, sold in pet shops in poor conditions at too young an age (parvovirus anyone?), massively inbred, and generally considered lowly creatures. You can not use the line ‘I work with animals’ as a charming pickup in India (in the way that you possibly could in California). Some of this cruelty – a fairly small fraction – is down to poor education and the economics of not being able to care. But a lot of it is down to… well…cruelty.
- Since 2009 it has been illegal to kill a dog unless you are a vet euthanizing on compassionate grounds. But ask most people and they’ll tell you that brutal, inhumane culling still goes on in this state. They want the sticking plaster solution (just like the Tory’s wanted the badger cull incidentally which should tell you all you need to know)
- The government officially supports the neutering program but in Kerala they either don’t carry it out or they do so ineffectively. More on this later.
- One of the reasons for this is that the government in Kerala is byzantine at best, corrupt at worst. Officials are often not held accountable. Further more, Kerala is one of two states in the whole of india that can slaughter cattle. They aren’t famous here in India for their animal compassion.
- Avis is out here offering her time and money to reduce the dog population but she has consistently met resistance. She has been the victim of legal abuse, break ins and attacks on her dogs and at present her charity is not allowed to accept foreign contributions. This is a BIG problem for the dogs. She uses her own money which cannot last forever. To be fair, India is wary of foreign cash going into the hands of money launderers and terrorists and since Avis, 71 years young and who has spent 11 years neautering over 4000 dogs with her own cash, is clearly both of these they are suspicious of her intentions.
So, all in all I’m angry because it’s a shit situation for dogs around the world and its really really shit situation here in Kerala – especially when people of Avis’ stature are not given a clear passage. No excuses.
And to cheer you up, here are some cute pictures of Dawn, the puppy we rescued from the roadside.
So far she seems fine.
Anyone want a dog like this? Maybe I should adopt it…