A few days ago, in the village of Edayanchavadi, I noticed a puppy with a collar around its neck on the roadside. I presumed it had a home. But every day, I would see the puppy there, and realized that its condition was getting worse. I stopped and asked around if the puppy belonged to anyone. Nobody claimed ownership. Some said that it had been ‘dumped'. When I approached it, it wagged its tail, but moved away. I put some food down, but other hungry homeless dogs came to eat it, and frightened the puppy away.

I have been in animal welfare for several years, and I have been able to undertake over a thousand Animal Birth Control (ABC) surgeries for homeless dogs near Auroville. Work is demanding and funds are limited, but what is most worrying is the number of dogs being abandoned on the streets nowadays. As economic standards improve, more food is also being wasted or discarded.

NGOs rescue as many abandoned animals as they can, and while some dogs are cooperative, others are fearful and find it hard to trust humans again. I appeal to people to make responsible decisions. My first suggestion is to adopt a needy animal from an animal shelter or from an orphaned litter on the streets. Secondly, we can reclaim our localities and enforce strict garbage control, and organize drives to spay or neuter homeless animals. Last and certainly not the least, we must believe that a pet is for life, and never abandon it.

My heart broke at the sight of that hapless puppy and the older dogs, but there is hope for all of them if we make the right choices.

(The author is founder of Integrated Animal Care Centre. Contact her at integrated_animal_care@yahoo.co.in or 2622234 to sponsor a birth control surgery, or to adopt an Indian puppy)

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