By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
It would be wonderful if everyone could and would keep a dog. It would be good for them, both emotionally and physically. It would be good for their children because children with dog companions grow up to be smarter and more disciplined as well as with fewer allergies.
But the world is far from perfect. There are many people who do not own dogs. And there are many people who should NOT own dogs.
- a) People who go to dog shows and believe that the pedigree is more important than the dog. These are not people who care about animals. These people need to win trophies. If their dogs don’t, win they discard them and get new ones who will become champions. They are ruthless, power hungry businessmen, and dogs are simply their tools. They are probably going to be as cruel as the dog show breeders they buy them from.
- b) People who keep a dog to enhance their own status. People who get St Bernards and Siberian Huskies and Pugs only to get the respect and admiration of their neighbours. These are the most inferior human species – those that crave attention because of the dogs they keep. Most of them will keep the dog badly locked up all the time and only brought out when they want to impress company. Their pets will die quickly. These people even turn up at shelters wanting an “angrezi” dog. Their primary motive for getting a dog from a shelter isn’t compassion, it’s money. They don’t want to spend the money – but they need to have the status. Don’t get a trophy dog. Get a trophy wife.
- c) People who keep their dogs tied to the gate the whole day and only let them loose at night. People who keep their dogs on the roof in all weather to scare away intruders. People who keep their dogs in cages near their front doors. Keeping dogs tied in kennels and cages can literally drive them crazy.
- d) People who keep dogs only to earn money from them. They breed their females twice a year and sell the puppies when they are only a month old. If they have a male, they will advertise it as a stud, take one female puppy as their share of the litter and either sell her or keep her to mate with her father, creating generations of inbred, sick, dogs. They are not professional breeders. They believe that a dog has to earn his/her keep.
- e) People who think that dogs are furry human babies. They carry them around the whole day, usually upside down with their legs upwards so that their spines are affected. They dress them up with their paws in frilly socks and baby shoes, put nappies on them, sweaters in winter and frocks in summer. They feed them snacks and ice cream off their own plates. Dogs are not children and you are not just humiliating them in the eyes of their own species, you are showing people what a jackass you are as well. These dogs will suffer ill health, bad temper from bad food and lack of exercise.
- f) People who train their dogs badly, do not socialize them, and then muzzle them when they go out. Dogs cannot control their temperature through sweating. They can only do it by panting and letting the air come in through the mouth and cool the body. If you keep their mouths shut then you are putting the dog in danger of overheating and dying.
- g) People who use their dogs as fighting dogs. Anyone who likes to see a dog fighting with others of his species and is willing to starve, beat and abuse them till they become vicious , should be put into jail. Forget dogs, these people do not deserve families, friends or society. They should be among their own kind – vicious prisoners.
- h) People who are never at home. If you are hopping around every week for business or pleasure, you cannot leave a dog at home alone and expect him not to be unhappy and scared. The same thing applies if you are spending long hours away and come home after the sun sets. There is no point getting a dog and then hiring a servant to look after him/her. Have you ever seen a household help when he takes a dog for a walk? He sits down in a park, the dog is tied to the bench while friends talk and smoke and if the dog wants to run he is smacked. Then he is brought home and this great walk is over. You brought the dog, you owe him time and commitment. Unfortunately dogs can’t sue for divorce so they are stuck with you. The fun of owning a dog is getting the daily, intense and personal interaction a dog can provide. A dog is the closest friend you can have, next to a real person. The person who can’t spend quantity and quality time with a dog, shouldn’t own a dog.
- j) People who don’t want to look after dogs when they fall ill. My shelter is full of dogs thrown away when they develop an itch, fleas, kidney failure or cataracts. Those dreadful people – who, I hope will be thrown away by their children, bosses or society- should never have kept them in the first place. Dogs are not vases, to be thrown away when they develop cracks. Medical care, vaccinations, comfortable bedding and good food – would you like to be denied those by your own relatives? Why should a dog be treated differently.
- k) Every day I get one or more emails from people who want a serious medical opinion “My dog has not eaten for five days. His stomach is swollen and he is groaning all the time. What should I do?” Why not take him to a doctor and pay to have him treated instead of waiting five days to write to someone at random asking for free, illiterate, medical advice. These are cheapskates who should never have got a dog to begin with. Many of them have money – they just don’t want to spend it on their dog. These are the people who will get the dog but not spend money on it- no proper bedding, no proper shampoos for fleas or ticks, no vaccinations, the cheapest possible food- usually leftovers.
- l) Irresponsible people who let their aggressive dogs out to bite passersby, neighbours, children in the park,chase cycles and cars and bark the entire night. People who allow their dogs to be teased by children or adults till they explode. This brings all dogs a bad name and causes the deaths of thousands of innocent street dogs who get blamed for what your dog does. It also creates conflict situations in which the only one that suffers is the dog. Why not train them properly?
- m) Abusers who take out their frustrations on their pets. Physical and verbal abuse can destroy a dog as much as it can a human.When a dog is mistreated, the dog becomes scared and more difficult to live with. Sometimes, the dog decides it has had enough and it attacks a family member or a neighbour. Hitting the dog when he disobeys or indulges in any kind of destructive behaviour which results in the dog biting and that leads to a vicious cycle. Allowing bratty spoilt children to hurt animals because you think it is cute. It is not. It is dangerous for both. If you realize that you are abusive to the dog, then first find him a new home, and then get some counselling.
*About the author: Maneka Sanjay Gandhi is a Member of Parliament and leader of animal welfare movement in India. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org