If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feeding Strays

Often when people find out someone feeds strays, a few common thoughts cross their minds; no life, eccentric, littering by throwing plastic bags of food in public places, etc Whatever the comments may be, feeding strays is something I have chosen to do for the past many years. My objective, however, is very clear; to sterilize the female dogs so they don’t give birth to puppies who have to grow up on the streets with no food nor shelter and run the risk of being hit be heavy vehicles in construction sites.

             Puppies born in a factory

      Puppies living on the beach

Do they deserve to live the way they do?

Many a times I see female dogs running on the pavements in industrial estates, tits dangling, just given birth, no milk for the puppies and the female dog herself, skin and bones. It is a painful sight. Not all dogs can be befriended and be caught for sterilization. There are some feral dogs that even after feeding them for years, will not even come out till my car has driven off, then I see them from the rear view mirror. These are the poor dogs that will give birth over and over again and there is nothing very much we can do to help them.

Friends often say they want to start feeding strays too and I discourage them. It is not just feeding once in a blue moon, when I have leftovers. It is a regular long term commitment. Even when I am unwell, I go, because I know they are sitting on the pavements, waiting for me to go feed them. Some strays don’t get to eat for days on end. I know, because there are just too many of them and too little scraps lying around to fill all their stomachs.

A very old and weak dog living on the streets, dirty from oil in the factory

It is not easy feeding stray dogs. You may have a soft heart, so you feed them because you don’t want them to go hungry; but you also sometimes need to be “hard” because on some days, you see little puppies, eyes barely open, dashing across the road or crushed on the road, dogs running around with huge gaping maggot wounds, dogs so skinny and weak they can barely stand and reality hits you - that this is the sad life of a stray dog.

After feeding them, I often leave with mixed feelings . . . .happy that I gave them a good, hearty, nutritious meal; but sad that that was all I could do for them, to give them a meal and a pat. I couldn’t take the little puppies home, the ones that continuously licked my toes and thanked me for feeding them, all of three months old and stomach bloated from worms. Sad that I could not take that limping dog to the vet, even though his leg seemed to have been broken in a car accident. Sad that people go through great trouble to abandon their pets in industrial estates. You would know these are pets and not strays because they are just so terrified of other dogs, and they don’t look out for traffic when they cross the roads. Some days I drive home with a very heavy heart.

This evening was one of those sad evenings. I not only saw a Sharpei lying on the pavement, I also saw two badly injured dogs.

It is highly possible that this Sharpei is an abandoned dog – he appears terribly lost, scared of humans and other dogs and you can see the sadness in his eyes. Perhaps it was easier for him to accept the death of his owner, rather than be abandoned. He has been living on the streets for the past 3 months and I have been feeding him regularly, as he was a mere skeleton when I first saw him. He cowers away the minute any dog comes near him, and as such, he never ever gets to eat anything at all . . . .He seems to be about 4 to 6 years old but I sense he doesn’t see very well. He tends to sniff his way around and I am concerned he may be hit by a vehicle, considering he is not road savvy like the other strays.

These are pictures of the Sharpei I took last week.

The abandoned Sharpei waiting at the bus stop

Confusion and sadness in his eyes

This evening I also spotted a male dog with the entire left side of his face and body so badly injured, possibly from a dog fight. His flesh was rotting, the stench unbearable and there were maggots in his wound. He was extremely hungry, so I fed him, but could not go near him. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me.

As if all this was not upsetting enough, I saw a middle aged male dog, whom I have been feeding for the past 4 years, with his testicles bleeding and swollen to bigger than the size of two tennis balls. As always, he ran up to me and licked my legs to tell me how happy he was to see me. I saw him just some days back and he didn’t have this problem. I was almost in tears when I fed him. He didn’t seem to be in much pain and happily ate his food . . . but then again, strays have a very high tolerance for pain.

Tomorrow I will go look for this male dog and take him to the Vet. I hope it is not cancerous and that sterilization would save him and he can be back on the streets in a couple of days. I hope he trusts me enough to let me take him to the Vet.

As for the other dog with the face wound . . .taking him to the Vet would not be an easy task as he wont even let me near him, but like all my other rescue cases, I will persist and try my best to help.

If you had somehow thought that people who feed strays are eccentric and have nothing better to do in their lives . . . you may be right. We even spend days on end staking out places just to rescue the injured dogs and take them to the Vet; but all our rescue work would not be possible without the kind support and generosity of friends and fellow animal lovers.

1 comment:

  1. sigh i know how you feel, every weekends when i go to feed the strays i pray to god that they dont have new wounds....is very disheartening...



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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."- Unknown