Lifestyle Awards 2013
Wellness & Relationship
How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Be Indian, Bark Indian
Let Birds Fly Free
Elephants in Captivity: a Giant Injustice
Compassion's In Fashion
Global Warming: Less Meat, Less Heat
Some folks I know called in to report a pet shop that was keeping pups terribly.
Of course, that hadn't bothered them at the time they were buying one there but only after they'd discovered their purchase was sickly, and then faced a fuss whilst trying to return him.
There are many ways to acquire a dog but buying one has to be the worst. Puppy mills, pet stores, and dog breeders are part of a truly vicious, exploitatve chain.
Don't let your money keep them in business.
A "puppy mill" refers to any place that produces dogs for profit. No attention is paid to the animals, their food, living conditions or medical care.
They are simply treated as products to be multiplied and marketed. Puppy mills are not large facilities.
In India, they operate out of slums and are run by criminals who regularly steal pets for their 'dhandha'.
The dogs are crammed into stacked up cages, hardly fed and never exercised.
Heat cycle after heat cycle, they are bred, allowing the female little or no time to recover before being impregnated again.
In-breeding is rampant: Fathers with daughters, brothers with sisters, and the resultant offspring suffer from severe behavioural and genetic medical problems.
Those that are 'unsaleable', are simply thrown in the trash. In Delhi, there used to be people hanging around hotels that shoved puppies at you as casually as pens and hankies!
You still find them beneath Shahadara Bridge selling puppies out of a sack. The down price on one of these may not seem much but in the long run you'll be paying heavily in terms of healthcare and heartache.
The pet store is a natural, noxious extension of the puppy mill.
They're mushrooming in all our our markets boasting fish in ghastly glass prisons; hamsters that will live and die as novelty items, and little, lonely puppies.
Sooo cute! No, sooo cruel! The pups in a pet store might look okay, but they've only been cosmetically cleaned up-shampooed and shining for sale.
In actual fact, they're treated as poorly as in the pet mill whence they came small and sickly.
I was yanked into one such shop in Khan Market by my daughter who regularly harangues pet traders, to find a single puppy tied up inside a cage with neither food nor water.
When we asked for the mandatory licence to sell, of course the guy claimed the puppy as his own, not for sale.
Worse, he insisted that the absence of a water bowl was on the vet's advice which was disproven upon calling the vet. But it is this kind of deceit and disregard for life, both human and animal, that marks any kind of animal trade.
Many so-called 'respectable' people breed dogs for sale. The former chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, runs a Rottweiler business in Dehradun.
These "backyard breeders" are no better than any puppy mill. Many of them supply pet shops and none of them follow any of the practices of responsible breeding where the emphasis is not on profit, but on where the puppies end up.
Responsible breeders would closely question and often refuse if prospective buyers cannot provide suitable conditions for the animal.
If approved, buyers would be required to sign a contract where they agree to: Immediately sterilise a dog bought for companion purposes only; notify the breeder of any medical conditions that the dog develops; notify the breeder if they have to get rid of the dog so that a new home can be found and so on.
The attempt would be to ensure the safety and well-being of the animal just as you would for a child. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen and least of all, in India.
Instead this is what you find
Pick a Pup
The breeder is willing to sell you any puppy you want, no questions asked. You pay your money and you take your puppy and your chances. The breeder neither asks questions, nor answers any.
He neither knows the puppy's lineage, nor has any health records. There is no documentation, not even payment receipts with most transactions being in cash or black money.
Prices are negotiable and haggled over as keenly as if trading in vegetables and fruit.
Rescued Dogs and Roadies
If what you want is a companion, not a pricey showpiece, head straight to an animal shelter where dogs of all ages and sizes are just longing for a home and family.
Many shelters allow you to play with a dog and spend some time with it before you make the final decision as to whether or not you want to adopt it - they want to make sure the fit is just right!
If your city doesn't have a shelter, simply help yourself off the street. Roadies scrub up real pretty and make the best friends of all.
Be Indian Bark Indian
campaign encourages Indians to become the proud owners of 100%
Indian dogs. The best people have
Maneka Gandhi has 17 rescued dogs in her home, Navtej Johar has 6, Pritish Nandy has 2. Om Puri had an Indian dog that lived for 14 years, Shatrughan Sinha's family has only Indian dogs.
Aamir Khan has adopted one from a village near where he was shooting while nephew Imran has taken in an abandoned pet.
Having an Indian dog is perhaps the best social statement you can make as it proclaims you to be bright, generous and self confident. In fact, almost as purty as your pooch!
About the author: Ambika Shukla is not an animal 'lover', she is simply a firm believer that animals too have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She is currently Director Media & Communications, PETA India.
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