pye dogs in India
August 17, 2008 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Are you a Pariah Dog fan? A blog about Indian stray and street dogs.

This space belongs to the Indian Pariah Dog Club, a Mumbai-based canine club whose membership is restricted to pariah dogs and mix-breeds only.

The stray dog issue.

Vets Beyond Borders volunteers catching street dogs during their street dog desexing and rabies vaccination program. In Ladakh.

Pariah pr0n.

Clean and Unclean: The Dog in Asia
posted by nickyskye (25 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a previous FPP about street dogs in Moscow, with some good links in the comments for more reading.
posted by Forktine at 3:30 PM on August 17, 2008

(And the photos in some of your links make my heart melt. I'm such a sucker for street dogs — I've been attacked by them before, so I'm really cautious going near them, but I always toss them some food scraps when I can.)
posted by Forktine at 3:32 PM on August 17, 2008

While I have sympathy for street dogs themselves and love the mongrel dogs of friends and neighbours, the street dog situation in India is pretty bad. I only have personal experience of the situation in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu however. Not only would animal rights activists refuse to allow street dogs to be euthanized, they also protested against rabies vaccines made using animals (as opposed to vaccines obtained from microbial cultures). This led to a situation where the cost of rabies vaccines increased from about 60 rupees a shot to around 600 rupees a shot (a complete course of treatment for one person bitten by a rabid dog would be five shots). Combine this with large numbers of people (generally the poor who lacked the motorized transport to protect them from stray dogs that the activists themselves had) bitten by rabid dogs each year and the state budget for rabies vaccines became nearly 10 times the year before. The reason I have inside knowledge of this situation is because my mother was in the Health department of Tamil Nadu at the time.
posted by peacheater at 3:52 PM on August 17, 2008 [4 favorites]

Of the many culture shocks I experienced while visiting India, I found the plight of canines there was of the more stark contrasts with back home. There they were vermin, short and simple.

They were most prominent for me when I got to the beaches of Goa, where it seemed the more rural setting of the coast allowed for them to flourish in number moreso than an urban centre like Delhi, at least right in the centre on Delhi where I stayed. Thus in their vermin state at the beaches my sympathy for their unloved lot in life did often turned into loathing, as during the day they attacked the cows on the beaches, causing the large frightened bovine types to stampede in any direction they saw fit to escape the torment, nearly resulting in daily tourist tramplings; and during the night they kept everyone awake as they roamed in unholy packs making an absolute racket, fighting and scrapping and barking all night long, which obviously was also not condusive to safely walking around at night for anyone else, human or otherwise. It was the first time in my life I hated dogs.

You'd wake up cursing their very souls, go outside - and then you'd see a local kicking one of them for fun.
posted by nudar at 4:25 PM on August 17, 2008

Must say, I've never had the tiniest problem from pariah dogs in India. They seem so accustomed to being kicked or shooed away, or to kids throwing things at them, that they usually cower away if you so much as glance at them.

Returning home from Delhi one time, I was hanging around Connaught Place awaiting the ex-servicemen's bus to Indira Gandhi International Airport, when I spied the most woeful, mangy, almost totally hairless pariah dog, covered in horrible lesions & something that looked like eczema. I had one shot left of my last roll of film, and thought this poor creature's miserable state just had to be recorded for posterity.

As soon as I pointed my camera at it, the dog realised that something was afoot, but was so confused at this new experience - somebody paying attention to it but without any associated pain - that it spun around and around in circles, barking in every conceivable direction.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on August 17, 2008

This led to a situation where the cost of rabies vaccines increased from about 60 rupees a shot to around 600 rupees a shot

Now, why do I just assume that Jayalalitha somehow or other managed to pocket the difference?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on August 17, 2008

For decades the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai used to kill up to 50,000 stray dogs annually. The method used was electrocution.

What?? A bullet in the head is instantaneous, and arguably a lot more humane.
posted by crapmatic at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2008

crapmatic, you're right.

electrocution is still used by many developing countries. it's cheap and it's readily available. it's also one of the few methods that allow for mass killing. for example, in mexico, it was often the case that a concrete-floored room was flooded with 2-3 inches of water, and then a strong current is sent through the water. you can kill as many dogs as you can fit in that room that way.

a few american organizations have been working hard to convince other countries to use sodium pentobarbital (the substance used, either IV or IP, to euthanize animals in US shelters). from the developing nations' perspective, the argument against using SP is twofold: there are too many animals, and too few trained humans, to facilitate moving to this more humane method. the idea of providing a humane death to each individual animal is daunting, to say the least, to "animal control" officals in many countries. and that's why even a gunshot to the head, as you suggest, is unfeasible.

where these animals are overpopulated to the point of public health crises, there is not much cultural impetus to provide a humane death.

i'm a certified euthanasia tech, and i trained to become a CET trainer. eventually, i was bound for overseas destinations myself. but the overwhelming grief i felt over current conditions -- the complete despair in the face of inhumanity -- ultimately kept me from moving forward with that career.
posted by CitizenD at 6:44 PM on August 17, 2008

Bawwww :'(

Also: Not only would animal rights activists weirdos with dodgy agendas refuse to allow street dogs to be euthanized...

posted by turgid dahlia at 6:45 PM on August 17, 2008

should that be "doggy agendas"?
posted by crapmatic at 7:33 PM on August 17, 2008

Also: Not only would animal rights activists weirdos with dodgy agendas refuse to allow street dogs to be euthanized...

As soon as you start advocating animal rights, you are in dodgy agenda territory. Kindness to animals is certainly a good thing, but rights are a bit much, particularly when there are so many human rights issues in the world today.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:57 PM on August 17, 2008

This sheds a little more light on why my parents are so rabidly (pardon the pun) anti-dog. (FYI, we're of Indian descent, though I was born in the US.) They -- my mother more so -- really hate them. So I grew up hating dogs, too. Still do, to be honest with you. Not that I want to see them slaughtered en masse, or that I'd ever want to kick them or see them inflicted with pain or anything . . . but I just prefer not being around them. I HATE when I go to someone's house and hear that damn barking as soon as I knock or ring the doorbell. FWIW, my parents both come from remote villages in northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, my fiancee is one of those "middle class Indians" mentioned in the "The Dog In Asia" link -- her family came to the US when she was 9-10 years old, and when they lived in India, they lived in Modern, Contemporary, Urban India (TM). So they have a dog, and it's normal to them. The Fiancee and I have had a back-and-forth on the dog issue, and for a while, I put my foot down and said no to her bringing the dog when she moves in. Only recently have I begun to change that to a "well, we'll see" . . . which she, of course, took as meaning she'll be persuading me very soon. I'm not so convinced.

Not sure where I'm going with this. But some very interesting links, and very informative to me in particular, in any case. So, yeah . . . thanks.
posted by CommonSense at 8:19 PM on August 17, 2008

We were in Bhopal in January, walking to the market in the morning. It had been a cold night, and we passed by the remains of a few fires that people had made to keep warm. I remember seeing a street dog walk *into* one of the dying fires and curl up in the smoldering ashes for warmth. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
posted by rajbot at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2008

This sheds a little more light on why my parents are so rabidly (pardon the pun) anti-dog.

Yeh, anywhere in the world where pariah dogs live, people tend to see the animals as vermin - quite understandable, really, because they subsist on whatever rubbish can be found in the streets, and live very filthy, degraded lives.

It's only the urbanised upper classes who'd ever consider having one as a pet. And when they do, you can be sure that it'll be a pedigree or some kind of breed radically different to the street dogs. The Indians often go for a particular breed with a jaunty, fluffy tail, maybe a bit like a smallish husky. Not sure what the breed is called.

Arabs are apparently also particularly disgusted by dogs, and the idea of keeping them as pets. They'd no sooner allow a dog into the house than the typical westerner would allow a pig in. The Americans' use of trained dogs for searching Iraqi houses was a fine example of a really nasty cultural blind spot.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:38 PM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great post, Auntieji. There are pariah dogs in Malaysia too - Malays don't keep them as pets either. Most Islamic schools of law consider dogs ritually defiling, Malikis being the exception. They are employed as work dogs or guard dogs in some muslim countries, but very very rarely as pets.

In Malaysia the pariah dogs are mostly left alone. Malays tend to be more terrified of dogs more than anything else. At least pariah dogs have a reflex to stay away from people. People go about their business and the dogs survive on the margins. Much worse are the feral dogs - former pets abandoned to fend for themselves. The ones that survive get real mean. Growing up next to a freeway in Detroit, I remember seeing dogs pushed out of moving cars by suburbanites as they rolled down the service drive.

In Detroit, they run in packs.

``A lot of people are saying that because of the dogs, they're sometimes
trapped in their homes,''

Detroit in its Feral Dogs in the Open Prairies phase
posted by BinGregory at 10:29 PM on August 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Kindness to animals is certainly a good thing, but rights are a bit much, particularly when there are so many human rights issues in the world today.

Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of this "first we have to fix absolutely everything in this particular province before we worry about any of the others" course of reasoning.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:51 PM on August 17, 2008

True. Because then we'd just end up arguing things to the nth detail in MetaTalk, and never actually get anything done in the real world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:00 PM on August 17, 2008

When I was 11 I had a dog like that when we lived in India. The locals could not believe it, but they knew it was mine and nobody harmed it. Some even warmed up to it.
posted by jfrancis at 12:19 AM on August 18, 2008

Most of the dogs in India are killed in Road accidents.
posted by sagar13d at 2:16 AM on August 18, 2008

I had no idea they had a distinct name or look. I just saw the photos and thought, 'That's exactly my old dog.'
posted by jfrancis at 2:24 AM on August 18, 2008

posted by matteo at 3:15 AM on August 18, 2008

I put my foot down and said no to her bringing the dog when she moves in.

What's going to happen to the dog? Where is it going?
posted by pieoverdone at 5:02 AM on August 18, 2008

"Arabs are apparently also particularly disgusted by dogs"

I asked muslim friend about this Ubu, and he said that the Arab dislike of dogs stems from a passage in the Koran where barking dogs alerted the authorities to Muhammed trying to escape unseen from a city at night. Don't quote me on this, but I vaguely remember reading this somewhere too.
posted by vronsky at 11:32 AM on August 18, 2008

Not really. Arab dislike of dogs was originally a dislike of mongrel dogs - and I'm not sure how far that goes back.

Check 18:22, for instance. Not clear if the hound is Afghan...

Hunting with horses, hounds, and birds of prey goes back a long way in those parts of the world.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2008

pieoverdone: Well, since she presently lives with her parents (yeah, that's another story), it would stay there. Her parents are rather attached to it anyway, so it's possible that may happen anyway.
posted by CommonSense at 6:19 PM on August 19, 2008

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