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The puppy had sad eyes ...

06 Jun 2015 | by | Posted in: Adoption

Don’t rescue a dog that doesn’t need rescuing


In animal rescue and welfare, as in the case of almost everything else, there are trends and fads that need to be addressed from time to time. This article comes as a timely educational piece for those who want to help dogs in need. 

As an animal welfare worker, I receive anywhere between 10 and 50 calls a day. A lot of the calls are about actual rescues, accident cases that need immediate attention, and abandoned dogs that need to find new homes. Increasingly, there is a new type of caller. I like to call this person the “rescue-me rescuer”. To give you an idea, I recently received a call from a gentleman who had picked up five stray puppies off the street and wanted me to take them into the shelter immediately. I tried to explain in vain, why this was a terrible idea and how, in fact, he should put the puppies right back where he found them. What followed was a string of abuses about how cruel I am and how people like me should have no place in the animal welfare work. This was the fourth such call that day, and I was beginning to feel like a credit card peddling call centre employee, who probably gets yelled at on nine out of ten calls.

To mitigate the influx of “rescue-me rescuers”, here’s the basic low-down on how stray puppy rescue works. Or doesn’t.

First of all, India has lakhs of stray dogs and, over generations, they have found ways to fit into their environment and live on the streets. While Animal Birth Control (ABC) programmes are in place in most cities and towns, ensuring the sterilisation of street dogs is a process that is likely to take many years to start becoming effective. Till then, there will be dogs living on the street. The street is as much theirs as it is yours. Learn to coexist peacefully. As finite as the boundaries of our country are, shelter spaces for animals are a minuscule percentage of that finite space. To expect that every puppy or adult should get off the street and go into a shelter is ridiculous. Unless, of course, you have thousands of acres of land and are willing to donate it to animal welfare, build shelter spaces and enclosures, and fund food and medical bills for the thousands of dogs that you want off the streets. 

If you see a puppy or a bunch of puppies on the street, and want them to be adopted into good homes, please understand that this means you have to become part of the process. Pick them up ONLY if you know you can help by fostering them till their second round of vaccinations are over. This means, they have to be old enough for their first round of shots. 21 days have to pass after the first round, in order for the puppy to be ready for the booster shots. At least three days have to pass before the puppy can come into a shelter environment and hope to survive. While they stand a chance of surviving on the streets like their parents and their parents before them, dropping them off at a shelter when they are not vaccinated, means they will most likely die of common infections within 48-72 hours. Besides putting all the others dogs there at risk.

If you have picked up a healthy puppy off the street because it looks "sad", you have not rescued it; you have de-homed it. I've been sad a lot the past year. All of us probably have been, at some point. You don’t see people jumping up to rescue you and take you home; don’t do the same to another unsuspecting animal.

The only time it makes sense to pick up a puppy off the street, is if its mother has died whilst still feeding it OR it has met with an accident and needs medical help.

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