Responsible ownership of dogs
There are about 40 dogs living on the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge. All dogs are free during the day, playing around the farm and sometimes taking a walk down to the river. At dusk we lock the dogs in to their kennels to protect them from panthers that are plenty in the area.
Many of our resident shelter dogs have history of traffic accidents, cruelty, abandonment and neglect. As far as possible all young dogs and puppies are adopted to new homes. We don’t let the number of dogs living permanently in the shelter to increase over 40 because we know that the overpopulation of dogs on the streets is not solved by shelters alone and that the welfare of dogs will suffer in overcrowded shelters.
Humans domesticated dogs tens of thousands years ago and the form of this mutually benefitting companionship was dogs roaming free within and around the human dwellings. It is only during the last couple of hundreds of years with increased urbanization that dogs have begun to live inside of our homes. For a dog, however, living inside someone’s house is no guarantee for good welfare. In India, there are millions of people who don’t have proper houses for themselves, let alone houses where they could keep dogs inside - still, the benefits from a companionship with man’s best friend are clear and so many owned dogs are let to roam free at least part of the day.
This background of the history of domestic dogs as well as the socio-economical situation in India mean that healthy dogs on the street do not need to be ‘rescued’ anywhere. They need to be surgically sterilized to prevent any more unwanted and homeless puppies to be born and they need to be vaccinated against rabies and they need to be returned back to their owners / place where they were caught from. This is called the Animal Birth Control (ABC) program and it is the most sustainable and humane way to control free-roaming dog population. The increased urbanization, increased edible waste from households, restaurants, small slaughter houses and butcher shops around in the cities means that surplus dogs can easily survive and reproduce. Very important component of humane street dog population control is to improve the solid waste management and its enforcement in the municipalities.
Responsible ownership needs to be strengthened in India. This means that many more owners need to be educated about the need to have their dogs sterilized and vaccinated every year. The street dogs are, in the end, just the offspring of unwanted pet dog puppies – many of them of course living on the streets for several generations, but nevertheless originating from domesticated dogs that have once belonged to somebody. You can help in this work by adopting a village where through annual vaccination of all dogs, a strong educational message will be given to the owners.