They are abandoned in countless ways. Some are stealthily dumped on a secluded street in the dark of the night. An emaciated one even showed up on a second-hand goods website recently where its owner had listed it for sale.
Hordes of Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, Huskies, Great Danes, Mastiffs and other pedigreed dogs are turning up on the streets of Bengaluru, cast off by owners who no longer care to keep them.
Dumping of pedigreed dogs is prevalent in every big Indian city and is a social commentary on a new India, she says.
Upper middle class Indians with disposable incomes think nothing of spending Rs 50, to a few lakhs to buy a pup of a fancy breed, says Ridhima Coelho, who co-owns a pet supplies store, PAWS. Dog ownership has to be as considered a decision as having a baby, Coelho says. Apartment dwellers buy Saint Bernard or Great Dane pups and are shocked at how fast and how big they grow. Working couples keep the dogs locked at home all day and panic when the dogs turn aggressive.
Buying an expensive pup does not necessarily lead to well-looked after pets, says Coelho whose dog-owning family ensures that somebody is always in the city to tend to the pet.
Some owners are as quick to get rid of the dog as they are to acquire one. The centre keeps the pets whose street survival chances are nil, then vaccinates and sterilises them before offering them for adoption. So far, the nearly dogs that have gone through the centre illustrate only the tip of the iceberg, she says.
Many of the pure-bred dogs are brought badly abused. One adult Great Dane which usually grows to 50 kgs was recently brought in at 22 kgs. A fully grown Saint Bernard recently advertised for sale on OLX looked completely emaciated and sick.
Then, three or four times a week, a pure-bred is found tied to the gates at the centre in the night. Shashi Uttamchandani, head of ecommerce at Bangalore-based ethnic wear brand Soch, chanced upon an Irish Setter — flea and tick-ridden, gaunt and sick — abandoned at the gates of a large pet clinic in the upscale Indiranagar area.
The vets at the clinic nursed the animal for weeks before allowing Uttamchandani to adopt him some months ago. Ganguly of CUPA says the craze for exotic pedigrees is such a trend that buyers do not even do basic research, such as noting that huskies require massive amounts of exercise, cocker spaniels have hearing problems, pugs are prone to skin diseases or that beagles are hyper.
Coelho of PAWS has noticed that the dumping of pedigreed dogs spikes after long spells of school holidays. Parents or relatives buy the pups to amuse or indulge their children during the vacations, the trend being gifts of designer breeds like Goldendoodles cross between a poodle and a golden retrieverCockapoos cocker spaniel and poodle and the tiny Bichon Frise.
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