Saving “nuisance” dogs from harm
Animal Aid is in its 8th month working hard to assist the local municipal government in humanely responding to complaints about “nuisance” dogs in order to protect dogs from harm and educate communities about dog behavior and dog bite prevention.
Twice a week, Animal Aid’s team of educators and expert dog catchers and handlers goes out into the community to vaccinate street dogs against rabies and meet with people who have complained to the local municipal corporation about dogs to hear their concerns and help explain the dogs’ side of the story.
Vaccinating dogs is not only critical to ensuring the eradication of rabies, but it also helps dispel the fears that can lead to dogs being harmed.
Since May of 2014 we have vaccinated more than 700 street dogs and interacted with thousands of people on dog issues as well as general animal protection such as calling our helpline to inform us about injured and ill animals and reporting animal cruelty.
We vaccinate more than half of the dogs without using the net, which gives onlookers a chance to see us interact lovingly with dogs in their neighborhood they may have been fearful of.
We were thrilled to welcome Udaipur’s newly elected Mayor, Mr. Chandra Singh Kothari, to Animal Aid’s shelter earlier in the month to introduce him to our rescue and sanctuary work, and discuss further ways of working together to create harmony between Udaipur’s residents and community dogs.
When you first come to India, one of the first things you notice are the animals on the streets–dogs sunbathing on the side of the road, cows peacefully ambling through crowds, monkeys preening on terraces, and pigs cooling off in open gutters.
For animal lovers, the presence of animals and nature intermixed with city life can feel almost magical.
As you know from following our rescue work, life as a street animal isn’t always easy. Dogs can be hit by speeding cars, cows can get sick from eating plastic, and monkeys can be killed by touching electric wires.
But there is also another threat to street animals: their status as “nuisance” animals in the minds of many Indians, particularly towards street dogs.
Fear of being bitten, annoyed at their barks during the night, or bothered by their defecation in the streets, free roaming dogs are not always welcomed.
Indian law gives dogs the right to be born and live in peace, protected from cruelty, on the street. Dog’s territories on the street are protected by law and the displacement or removal of healthy street dogs for any reason other than adoption illegal.
Most street dogs are by and large accepted or ignored by the residents of the neighborhoods they live in. They are given left-over food, children play with puppies, and almost every neighborhood has several families who give names to dogs and allow several dogs to come into their homes and live as pets.
In general, people are afraid or uninterested in petting dogs but as long as the dogs keep their distance they don’t object to a dog’s presence.
However, in some neighborhoods there is a family who strongly dislikes or hates dogs. This family might find it intolerable for a dog to so much as sit beside their gate. They might throw rocks, hit them with sticks, or they may go so far as to leave rat poison in sweets to intentionally kill neighborhood dogs.
Hurting a neighborhood dog in any way is against the law, but there is rarely a neighbor interested in filing a complaint with the police and starting a conflict with their neighbor. (Animal Aid actively encourages Udaipur residents to inform us of animal cruelty.)
Municipal corporations receive complaints about dogs on a regular basis. Sometimes the complaint is about a specific dog who has bitten someone, but most of the complaints are about harmless activities like dogs barking in the night or sitting on top of someone’s car. Animal Aid is forwarded calls about biting dogs and we go to assess the complaint and bring the dog back to our shelter for observation. In the cases of general “nuisance” complaints, we go with our team to vaccinate and educate.
Our twice-weekly rabies inoculation camps have been extremely effective in dispelling fear of dogs, helping cool down situations of negativity towards dogs, and meeting hundreds of adorable dogs all along the way!