If man was a dog’s best friend…

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This article was published in the July 2018 issue of Doon Page 3 magazine, a new publication which launched in June ‘for Dehradun’s elite’.

The Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to remove all stray dogs from the streets and relocate them to shelters within the next six months.

The ruling aims at the Himalayan state of Nainital, India’s ‘Lake District’ but could become a heavy burden for the whole Himalayan region. A petition stated stray dogs have bitten more than 11 000 people in Nainital in just 5 years and demands the implementation of shelters and other schemes within an unrealistic and unfairly short period of time.

There is no doubt that the growing number of stray dogs on India’s streets has reached epidemic proportions. The number of attacks reported in Himalayan towns has been the focal point of ongoing investigations over the past few years and as the packs have increased and become more territorial they have become dangerous. Unfortunately, due to the threat, the ruling will also consider a new law, to kill dangerous stray dogs.

On Sunday 24th June, Doon Animal Welfare led a peaceful protest march in Derahdun encouraging the community and participants to voice their concerns, raise awareness and get involved wherever they can. Furthermore, in a bid to unite East and West, South African Karma Yogi Pamela Tosh went live on YouTube with Petro Diamant, who is well known for her creative awareness campaigns for rare and endangered species around the globe. The intended panel of four included Milli Kaur, Doon Animal Welfare and Sün Ithilwen, IndiGoaDogs – Pet Relocations and Adoptions. The group has initiated a campaign inviting conservationists, veterinarians, private people and organizations working in service of India’s animals, NGO’s and anyone else with a connection to strays in India to become a part of one united movement to relocate, protect and save India’s dogs.

This ruling, if not implemented with strict laws to ensure the safety of the animals, as well as the timeous completion and operation of animal shelters, could be disastrous. Animal organizations around India are being alerted and encouraged to find out what they can do to help authorities who have been directed to determine the number of stray dogs in every town, city and village, and thereafter, make necessary arrangements for the construction of shelter homes as required.

Many private persons and smaller organizations incentivized by foreign currency operate throughout India independent of state subsidies. It is disappointing to find out that many choose to ‘fly under the radar’ in fear of having their operations put to a halt. It is becoming vital for independent projects to declare their services and benefit from state grants as these groups offer much needed resources for crisis missions, the implementation of national standards and awareness campaigns.

Australian born Sün Ithilwen founded Rishis Animal Kingdom in 2014 and became actively involved as a manager at ‘ARC’ Animal Rescue Centre, South Goa. Her training and expertise in fostering, adoptions and relocating animals includes taking into consideration social and environmental aspects, including Monsoon feeding programs to help the hundreds of dogs left to fend themselves after the tourists have left. Sün is passionately dedicated to ‘IndiGoaDogs’ and contributes to ongoing success stories across India in collaboration with ARC; Agonda Rescue Centre; I LOVE GOA DOGS; Cat Sanctuary Goa; Mission Rabies; Karma Animal Trust Rishikesh; Shankar Prasad Gokarna and Petfly Delhi, including vets and other private organizations.

Says Sün “We need to be more aware of animal behaviour in India and work better in the interest of the dogs that have been otherwise neglected. Adoption and sterilization are contributing factors in alleviating the growing population of street dogs and cats.”

Pamela Tosh better known as IndiPam continues to devote her time to serving the poor and disadvantaged, sick and elderly on the streets of Rishikesh, to educate locals and inspire western yogis. Says IndiPam, “Working on the streets has given me a very raw perspective of the suffering in India and a unique experience which enforces a connection with the Divine and all God’s animals. We must encourage sharing and collaboration.”

In April, earlier this year, IndiPam attended Doon Animal Welfare’s event Inauguration of the ‘Free Medicine Bank’ and met with young founder Milli Kaur.

“I was impressed to see so many people including medical professionals and ministers united in service to the community and animals.” Says Pamela, “It was unfortunate that during our weekend stay we experienced a contradiction to these efforts which has left a bitter memory.

My partner and I decided to visit some sites to get better acquainted with the bustling town. We chose a casual stroll through Gandhi Memorial Park and admired a dog sleeping peacefully under a tree. We had just passed the animal when a loud crack and yelp sent a shock through me. I nearly jumped out of my skin as the dog shot passed us. The two men were looking satisfied as they beat the dogs out of the park with sticks which could be used to scare, not harm. I am quite sure that the ‘Father of the Nation’ would see to the implementation of the peaceful removal of such ‘menacing’ animals from the park territory which is promoted for mindfulness, leisure, yoga and meditation, children’s activities, and a meeting place for all. When we accept open displays of man’s ego manifesting in the abuse of animals we violate the vital lessons and legacy Mother Nature intends for us.”