Rebel Yell and those Stray Dogs


When you are from one country and live in another one, you find it easy to make comparisons between your two homes.

That doesn’t mean that one is better than another, it just means that they are different.  As in all things, one place may be better than another in some things while the reverse is true for other things.

“In America, we did such and such…” or “In India, they do this or that…” you would say.

In America we belt out “Hell YEAH” in a parody of the Rebel Yells of old in the face of danger.  In India, they yell out “Jai Hind!” in a show of united solidarity.

And I do find that I make comparisons.  Nor is the word play lost on me.  I know that I say “we” when referring to America and “they” when referring to India.

Maybe it’s because while India is my physical home and she is a part of my soul, she is not my emotional home.  My emotional home is still Virginia or California.

This difference is sometimes daily driven home to me.

Dealing with stray animals is one example.

In America, there is an estimated 6-8 million animals entering shelters each year.  Out of those, 3-4 million are humanely euthanized.  Another 3-4 million are adopted into homes.  These were just the numbers for America, where seeing a stray dog is a rare occurrence and you would call the Animal Control Officer for your area for the animal to be picked up.

In America, our shelters are clean and spacious and the animals receive care in the form of medicine, food, clean water, shelter, hygiene, and love.

In America, once an animal is brought to a shelter, it is seen by a Doctor and treated for any issues.  If it is unaltered, the animal is spayed or neutered.

In America, if you bring a stray in, they will see to its care and keep it until it’s healthy enough to go home with you or be put up for adoption.

In America, there are adoption drives and Public Service Announcements and the local News Station do a weekly piece with the shelter to highlight animals in need of good homes.

In America, the shelters have both employed workers and staff and volunteers.

And this is what I know about American Shelters.  Of course, there is always going to be a bad apple, but we never let that apple ruin the whole bunch.  We root it out.

Here in Pune India, there are four shelters for a guesstimate 41,000 stray dogs.  I say it’s a guesstimate because no one knows for sure how many stray’s there are in Pune.  No official count has been done.

In Pune, most of the shelters are small, overcrowded and dirty.

In Pune, the workers at some of the shelters seem to be goons, as they are always playing at cards when you come, smell of cigarettes and booze and say “No Cameras!”.

In Pune, there are scandals of dead and dying animals being found and Government workers being turned away during inspection.

In Pune, the people who disdain and hate the stray animal far out-number the vigilant saviors of the same.  In Pune, the people protecting the animals, sometimes needs protection themselves.

In Pune, a few shelters are NGO and not for profit, they work tirelessly to care for too many animals but there only two of them and they can only take in the most sick, abused and hurt animals.

In Pune, if you take a dog in for sterilization, they complete the surgery and the dogs vaccinations and then hand the dog back into your care.  The same day.  Usually within 1 hour of the dogs surgery.  They just do not have the space or money to care for the dog further if you can care for it yourself or if it has a safe spot on the road to live.

In Pune, there are five stray dogs for every street corner.

In Pune, people poison the dogs to be rid of them.  They stone them.  They hit them with their cars and leave them to die, alone, on the side of the road or in complex parking lots.

In Pune, your neighbor becomes your enemy if he finds you feeding the local dogs.

In Pune, YOU can be stoned or threatened for caring for the animals as it “encourages” the animals to stay.

In America, I was raised to love our Country’s uniqueness.  Our Rebel qualities are instilled in me.  I live and breathe the need to protect those that cannot protect themselves.

In India, I will continue to raise my Rebel Yell and in the words of Elizabeth Bennet,

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

Especially when it comes to “stray” animals.


9 thoughts on “Rebel Yell and those Stray Dogs

  1. Aaaah! A sore topic! 😦

    Health Care Services, in India, whether for humans or animals is many of the times incredibly inadequate.
    How stray animals live in Indian Metros is a reflection of how poor is the infrastructure and planning of the local and state administration, and, more importantly, the attitude of most Indians towards animals.
    Indians have traditionally, rarely have welcomed pets in their homes. Though India being primarily an agrarian society, domesticated animals, mostly cattle, have been mostly restricted to their sheds.
    ‘Pet’ dogs were rarely allowed inside, in fact, they were more for guarding a settlement rather than any idea of keeping a pet.

    Besides, keeping a pet was considered a ‘hobby’ of the rich and that too, were a mark of one’s Status.
    This began changing as Indians became familiar with the concept of pets….

    As rapid urbanisation attracted an unplanned, unregulated and ill-prepared mass of humanity, so did those domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats that co-exist, interact and depend upon human settlement, but were also adaptable enough (and small enough) to survive unbothered and without creating much trouble, as compared to a, say a wild bull.
    Now add the Indian mentality towards a stray. A large number of stray dogs are a nuisiance, so get rid of them (the ‘best’ and ‘quick’ way would be to kill them) and so, anyone who feeds them is viewed as adding to the public menace.
    This is due to ignorance of the general population, lack of any pre-planned, well-thought and efficiently implemented plan of action from the government and apathy towards solving the problem, mainly because most are too busy in an already overpopulated city to earn their livelihood and also a curious belief that ‘what’s not at my home is not mine, so either dump things there or take things from there and it anyway doesn’t concern me.’
    Plus, the government-run animal shelters show a similar bureaucratic and public-service like phenomenon of sub-standard service and poor infrastructure and training.

    Thankfully, public awareness is increasing and people are calling the need for better sterilisation procedures and care and, in general, a better veternary care.
    So, Your Ladyship, Fight On! Jai Hind.

    • Jayesh is back!!!!

      Or shall I say DOCTOR??? 🙂

      This was wonderfully explained and so true. Public awareness IS indeed increasing. I suppose I’m just too impatient sometimes with the slow path of change!

  2. This happened in a small midwestern town in the US (Population 30, 000) in the year 2001.

    This guy and his girlfriend (both white Americans, for the record) were staying in the apartment adjoining my apartment. Our two apartments shared a common-wall.

    I had just been laid off from my job, so I was at home during the day.

    The neighbor’s girlfriend would leave in the morning for work, while her boyfriend used to stay home all day.
    Then, the nightmare would begin. The guy would start beating the crap out of his girlfriend’s little pet-dog. Each abuse-session would last for up to 45 minutes. I waited about a week, before I walked to the office of the Apartment-Manager, and told him that my neighbor was abusing his pet-dog.

    I was shocked when the apartment-manager did not seem to care much about my complaint. He just looked at me in an unfriendly manner, as he said “OK”. He did not take any action against the neighbor.

    So, anyway, the animal-abuse still continued. Then, a few days later, it just so happened that a Police squad-car showed up one day at the apartment complex, for some other matter. I went downstairs and told the Police officer about the neighbor’s animal-abuse.

    The cop said he would inform Animal-Control about it.
    Sure enough, half-an-hour later, an Animal Control Officer shows up at the neighbor’s apartment :
    AC Officer : Sir, we’ve received some complaints regarding your dog. May I come in and take a look ?”
    Neighbor : ” No, you can’t come in. I just bathed the dog.
    AC Officer : “Oh, OK. Have a nice day, Sir.”

    And off went the AC Officer !!! He did not do a damn thing to investigate the matter any further.

    The animal-abuser-guy figures it was his other neighbor, across the hallway, who had ratted on him. This other neighbor was a friendly black guy with a white girlfriend. So, later, this animal-abuser guy opens the door of his apartment, and starts cussing out the black neighbor out, using all kinds of racist language. The black neighbor handled it very coolly, just opening his apartment door once, staring the animal-abuser in the face, and then shutting the door to his apartment.

    Soon thereafter, I relocated back to India, and so, I never did find out what became of the dog.

    Points to be noted :

    1) The Apartment-Management was so corrupt, that they would not take any action against a animal-abusing-tenant, lest they lose cash on a rent-paying customer.

    2) The AC Officer was surprisingly ineffective.

    • Hi Chris!

      Thanks so much for you story. You should be very proud that you TRIED to do something, which is more than so many people will do. Like I said earlier, it does happen the world over…abuse is not something that any one Country or Culture holds the exclusive rights too. It’s something that is ingrained in the human animal as a tool of power and it’s something that we’ve never completely ‘evolved’ out of. But for people like you who does say something, even if nothing good comes out of it immediately, good DOES come eventually. As my father always liked to tell us kids, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ You did good and while you can’t see it’s immediate benefits and while you may not have saved that one sad little dog, you experienced it and carried it with you to share with others with a passion that precludes anyone from feeling apathy. And, as my mother says (even in the US we know about it): Karma’s a bitch. Trust me, that guy will get his and the dog will have gone on to the green fields of Elysium to know peace and happiness. In the future, if you ever are again in that situation and in the US, you can make a formal complaint to the Police Department to which the Control Officer is attached. At that time, a Police Officer is dispatched and I promise he wouldn’t stand there and say “Oh, Ok…” to any such nonsense. Sometimes you just have to keep following through till something is done, no matter where you are in the world. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. I wish I could say that all American shelters are clean but here in Philly our largest is not and has been at the center of some controversy for years. They are severally understaffed and there are far too many dogs who need homes, especially pits.

    I say this because for years I’ve tried to volunteer for them and they won’t accept me. Recently I applied to foster cats, now word back. I just don’t understand turning down free help.

    • I agree with you that not all shelters in the US are as we would want them to be, but a vast deal more are what they should be then what I’ve found here. We went to three of them before I couldn’t take it anymore. 20 puppies in a small concrete enclosure with a rotting tin roof to cover them, sores open and bleeding, a small water pan and only one small section for potty breaks. The “kennels” if they could be called that barely allowed for the dog to stand up and barely any room for them to turn around or stretch their legs. I cried after leaving each one. And the smell…the dirt. It was horrible Jubee. I wish I could have taken pictures to show you but like I said “No Camera’s!!!”. 😦 And the people here who DO try to make a change are threatened or abused. No, India has a far way to go in the treatment of it’s animals.

    • It’s my feeling that the people who see wrong, should take a chance and point it out. Sometimes it’s a really fine line to walk and other times it’s quite dangerous. I support you in doing the same!!! 🙂 Nice blog by the way!

    • Sometimes I think it is better for stray animals in India to roam the streets freely rather than be imprisoned in an animal shelter where they have little chance of escaping abuse.
      My stomach turns over everytime I see a dead stray dog rotting on the highway after a hit and run.
      I sincerely think that euthansia and spaying are the only long-term solution to the problem of strays in Indian cities.
      It is better than a stray animal starving to death slowly on the street side or facing indescribable abuse in an animal “shelter”.
      I have just come back from an animal shelter here in Bangalore. I dropped off a stray dog that had a horrendous skin infection and was too weak to even walk.
      For weeks, I saw it lie quietly by the side of the street too weak to even look for food. After a week of follow-ups, the animal shelter finally picked it up today. I’m hoping it will be cared for but am not too hopeful.

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