In the doghouse: Dogs abandoned by Chennaiites has doubled

Organisations that take in these dogs say most of them are depressed and lonely

Chennai: Did you know that pet dogs too suffer from depression? Hasina, a Doberman, arrived at the shelter with two broken limbs rather excitedly but slowly slipped into depression when he realized that his owners’ weren’t coming back for him. He died months later due to depression. This is just one story of the hundreds of abandoned dogs left at the shelter. Officials from Blue Cross of India and People for Animals claim that the numbers have doubled over the last 10 years.

Last month, both PFA and BCI have recorded the numbers to be as high 34 dogs and 47 dogs.“The numbers are disturbing. We don’t know if we are to feel happy that they are coming to us instead of abandoning them on the street or to feel sad that they chose to abandon them,” says Dr Shiranee Pereira of PFA. In rare cases, they have managed to send the dog back to the owner. Ruby, a 15-year-old Pomeranian, did not touch her food for more than 48 hours and used to cry her heart out after she was left at the shelter.

Researches in the past and present have shown that depression in dogs is similar to that in humans. “When in depression, dogs usually starve themselves to death, the sorrow that they go through is unimaginable” says Dr Shrianee. The most common cause for depression was found to be loss of a companion animal or loss of an owner.

The main reason given seems to be shifting to apartments. Most of the apartments in Chennai do not allow pets due to various reasons, when the owners shift to these apartments they are forced to abandon the dog. Creating awareness among the public regarding depression in animals and allowing provision for pets in apartments are the only two things that can bring the ever growing arrow down.“Would you abandon your son/daughter if you were shifting? Pets are no different” says Sujeet of Blue Cross.

Don’t intimidate pet owners; violators can be booked

Mrs Viji Sivakumar, a resident of Velachery, with a sense of deep regret recollects her experience of having to abandon her dog of five years because of shifting into an apartment. “I still miss him and the separation is very painful that I find myself crying sometimes when I think of him” she says. This despite the fact that in February 2015, the Animal Welfare Board of India issued a notice stating that RWAs of apartments must not involve in intimidating pet owners to get rid of pets for unsubstantiated reasons.

“When RWBs ask owners to get rid of their pets, they are actually committing a crime. You are indirectly killing the pet by abandoning and no one has the right to inflict suffering upon other beings,” says Mr Vinoth Kumar, the assistant secretary of AWBI. Mr Kumar also added that the guidelines are not only addressed to the resident welfare boards but throws light on the responsibility of pet owners.

The AWBI has also notified the Commissioner of Police regarding the guidelines to register FIRs against violators on charges of criminal intimidation or cruelty towards animals In spite of such guidelines being passed, most apartments in Chennai still do not allow residents to have pets. “They give us silly reasons like the dog might bite and bark “says Rishi, a resident of Chromepet who has been struggling to own a pet but cannot because of such rules being laid down by the resident welfare board. On an average more than 100 apartments in Chromepet do not allow pets.

The problem still persists in a few apartments due to the conflict of interests between land owners and pet lovers.“I don’t allow it because it will be a problem to my guests” says Parimala “If they have pets, they should take responsibility of maintaining the pet and taking care not to cause disturbance to others, but they don’t” says another house owner.
“What if the dog bites anyone, we can’t take the risk,” says Venketesh, a resident of Chromepet.

But for some abandoning is out of question. “I need my dog; I would find a new apartment or rather shift but never abandon him,” declares Mithun, a software engineer. “The apartment owners should understand that any animal for that matter of fact is not dangerous unless attacked or provoked. Unless they understand this, the problem will continue to exist” says an AWBI official.

Next Story