A recent article in a daily declared that dogs that serve the Indian Army meet a dreadful death after their retirement. No exception is made even for those that have earned awards and medals for bravery and exceptional performance. It is a sad end for these brave and loyal creatures who risk their lives for us.
Army personnel have always been aware of this. But common citizens were kept in the dark. Even organisations that fight for animal rights and ethical treatment of animals were not aware of the distressing facts. All of a sudden things came to light when an RTI (Right to Information) query requested the Army to reveal the facts related to the methods employed by it to dispose of its animals.
In response to the query the Army said, “Army horses and dogs are evaluated for their fitness with respect to their performance of duties. The animals which are considered unfit for one month active service are disposed of by humane euthanasia.”
The information shocked everyone, including animal lovers. The question is, when the Army treats retired Army personnel with kindness and generosity why doesn't it treat the animals better? This is the fate of animals in advanced nations like the United States of America as well.
However, there is some difference. In the US sniffer dogs are allowed to live with their handlers or trainers. But the guard dogs are not that fortunate for they cannot be adopted by families as they are ferocious and trained to attack people. These are dogs that served the country on
the war front and against terrorists attacks.
Normal people, it is believed, cannot have them as pets because of their military training and behaviour. There have been instances in which these military-trained guard dogs proved to be bad pets. They are one-man dogs and have the tendency to attack others. But can that be reason enough to put these trustworthy dogs to rest? They are not allowed to live their full life. It is a ‘premature euthanasia’ gifted by humans to the dogs. Animal welfare charity Dogs Trust has proposed rehoming and retirement plans for these dogs. According to this plan, if rehoming or adaptation of guard dogs is not possible the government needs to establish centres, where these animals may be looked after till they meet their natural death.
But this is an American scenario. I am not aware of any such attempt at rehoming or adaptation initiated in our country.
When the Indian Army was asked the reasons for killing these dogs it gave two flimsy reasons. One was that these dogs are well-versed and familiar with the terrain of the ‘base locations’ and so the Army believes that it may not be a good idea for these animals to ‘end up in civilian hands’. The other reason was that it would be difficult for any individual to provide the kind of facilities the Army does.
The general manager of Blue Cross of India Dawn Williams said, “The Army can’t play god. The retired dogs just need food and shelter. Out of the huge funds it gets every year the Army could easily rehabilitate its retired dogs. While serving the nation dogs are indispensable and as soon as they become old or unfit for service the Army washes its hand of them. This is deplorable.” If the government has some consideration for these dogs it should allocate a small fund for rehabilitation programmes and ensure that they live a peaceful after-service life and have a dignified death.
I have always felt that the way we treat animals is a pretty good indicator of the compassion we are capable of for the human race. - Ali McGraw