THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Seven-year-old Goldy’s last memory of his owner is tied to the government veterinary hospital in PMG. It was there that he saw his owner last when the latter fled the scene abandoning Goldy, who was diagnosed with a cardiac ailment.
When two-year-old Jesse was relinquished by her owner at a young age of 11 months at the centre, she spent one whole week waiting for her human to return, all depressed and peering out from the wedge in the gate.
The Great Dane Jesse and Goldy the Golden Retriever, have adjusted and dwell happily at the temporary shelter of the NGO People for Animals, but they are a reminder of the irresponsible pet ownership among city residents. Around 27 dogs dwell here, all abandoned, relinquished or confiscated ones.
Every dog has a story, Sobita Padmakumar, a core member of the organisation tells you. “We get plenty of calls from dog owners asking if we could accommodate their pets. The reasons can be as flimsy as that of the dog requiring too much food,” she says. Even healthy breed dogs are being abandoned in the city. “The owners never see the trauma and depression that the abandoned dogs go through. There have been dogs which stopped eating or those that would roam around all depressed. We have seen it all and it is really sad. Having pets is a lifetime commitment. You should be prepared to care for them as a member of the family and if not, then you should never get one,” she says.
Around six dogs rescued from circus also figure among them. Sobita recalls how the dogs would resort to performing tricks when they first arrived at the centre. “The moment the cages were opened they would start performing tricks. They were let out only when they had to perform and running about was all new to them,” she says. She recalls how the dogs would line up at times to perform when they hear the drums being played in the neighbourhood.
The difficulty is in rehoming the dogs. Most adult dogs, though healthy aren’t adopted by people. “They make good companions although and can easily bond with you. I hope that more people would come forward to adopt these dogs,” she says.
The number of breed dogs abandoned by owners is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Sick dogs, injured ones, and old dogs are dumped on the streets on a regular basis and the rising number of breed dogs at the shelters in the city affirms the irresponsible pet ownership among city residents. Breeders too abandon the dogs when the dogs cannot be bred anymore. “There is no mechanism to check the illegal breeders in the city. They don’t have a license. One way to keep a check on them would vets reporting on the breeders who function without a license,” says Mary Muscroft who runs a rescue centre Street Dog Watch at Kovalam.
Why would you bring an animal which is designed to live in -20degrees to this temperate climate, asks Sreedevi S Kartha, a core member of PFA. “The number of breed dogs being abandoned is increasing at an alarming pace. We are flooded with calls on a regular basis informing about the abandoned dogs. I wonder if it is the recent fad to own new varieties such as Afghan Hound, Huskies and Spitz dogs which is making the people abandon dogs on the streets,” she says. “It is high time that we started an animal literacy campaign here. It is the need of the hour,” she says.