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Bond between dogs and humans


The fact that canines risk their lives for people who bay for their mass killing has once again been iterated

Kanika Mehta’s report in The Pioneer of October 17, about Tyson, a year-and-a-half-old dog, taking on a gang of 12 armed robbers that had attacked its master, provides yet another example of the legendary loyalty and devotion of canines to those who love and care for them. Despite being stabbed thrice, Tyson fought on until the victim’s son and neighbours rushed in to help and apprehended three of the robbers.

One can cite numerous instances of dogs jumping to defend humans. In June 2014, Sako, a four-year-old King Shepherd fought off coyotes in British Columbia, Canada. to protect a teenager who had become immobilised following a car accident. The basic factor is the instinct to protect, which is manifest even when no fighting is involved. On May 25, 1996, the Bengali-language daily Aajkaal, published on the front page a report by Pinaki Majumdar of three street-dogs guarding a new-born baby, a girl, abandoned near a dustbin in Kolkata. The three — shown in a photograph by Tapan Mukherjee published along with the report — as sitting protectively around the baby, followed her as some people from the neighbourhood took her to the local police station. They, had not eaten anything since the night of May 23, but sat there until 2 p.m. when the baby, which was very much alive, was put in a car for being taken to a home. Then they walked slowly back to their neighbourhood.

In a similar instance near Tumkur in Karnataka, three village dogs had saved the life of a new-born baby abandoned by its unwed mother at the Devarayanadurga reserve forest. According to a report in the New Indian Express of March 10, 2007, the three, who had followed the mother into the forest, stayed on guarding the baby even after she had returned home. Next morning, their barking drew the attention of a man who had gone into the forest to gather tamarind. He brought the baby back to the village and returned it to the mother after finding her. The villagers lavished affection on the dogs and resolved to get the woman married to the man who had made her pregnant but had refused to marry her.

Not all such cases, however, end happily like the one above. Dogs die in many instances. Thus, in July, 2016, a pet Doberman fought four mountain cobras, killing all of them, in a bloody combat in a village in Odisha’s Gajapati district. Shortly thereafter, it died from the poison that had got into its bloodstream from the cobras’ fangs. However, while the dog’s conduct was heroic, utterly cowardly and dishonourable was that of the onlookers who merely watched as the fight dragged on for a long time.

What explains dogs’ legendary loyalty to their masters? Animals have the same feelings of happiness, anger, love, loyalty and hatred as humans. A bitch loves her puppies deeply and feels the loss of one just as humans feel the loss of a child. Besides, instinct being the dominant element in their psyche, they  automatically  intervene when love or emotion moves them. Shamefully, there is a widespread tendency among humans to deny the presence of nobility and emotions among animals as admission will impose a huge morale guilt over their ceaseless and horrendously savage exploitation--whether it is killing them and eating their flesh or making them pull unconscionably heavy loads--on which human civilisation runs.

Animals not only have emotions but can be incredibly kind to one another. In an article in The New YorkTimes of March 8, 2007, Nicholas Wade cites instances of animal behaviour which, according to the noted primatologist Frans de Waal, “are the precursors of human morality.” Wade writes, “Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, which cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by a pulling a chain that would also deliver a shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for days.”

Contrast this with the horribly cruel, and mostly unnecessary, experiments that humans conduct on chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys.  Recall the loyalty of dogs to humans with the savage mass killings, like the one in Karnataka in 2007, of stray canines that humans perpetrate and bay for! Linda Bender writes inAnimal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Life of Animals, “How we value all life forms and how we treat them are true measures of our humanity.” Most humans fare very poorly judged  by that yardstick.

(The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)

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In a blow to commercial animal breeders and brokers, California pet stores will soon have to get their puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centers only.

Individuals can still buy from private breeders. But beginning in January 2019, it will be illegal for stores to do so. Violators will face a fine of $500.

The bill, A.B. 485, had strong support from several animal welfare organizations, which cheered it as a blow to “puppy mills” and “kitten factories” that mass produce animals for sale, often in inhumane conditions. It was written by two California Assembly members, Patrick O’Donnell and Matt Dababneh, both Democrats, and signed into law on Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California is the first state to pass such legislation, though it is following dozens of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have passed similar measures on a smaller scale.

“Because pet stores are one step removed from the breeding of the animals they sell, store owners rarely know the breeding conditions of their animals,” a fact sheet for the legislation said. “In many cases, puppy mills house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care.”


Opponents of the measure argued that the bill painted large “puppy mills” and responsible backyard dog breeders with the same broad brush.

Mike Bober, the president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, a national advocacy group, called it “well-intentioned but misguided” in a video last month, adding that it would jeopardize hundreds of jobs.

But the number of for-profit pet stores in California had been dwindling long before this bill was signed, said Boris Jang, who owns the Puppy Store in Santa Ana, Calif.

He expects the new law will put him out of business.

Mr. Jang said he once worked with animal brokers but stopped about four years ago after learning that the dogs might be coming from commercial breeders where animals suffered.

Since then, he said, the Puppy Store has offered a mix of dogs. About half come from shelters or rescue centers; the rest, which are sold for profit, come from small local breeders or people who have a litter they do not know what to do with. He said that if he had to switch entirely to shelter and rescue dogs, he could not afford his lease at MainPlace Mall.

Still, Mr. Jang said he understood lawmakers’ intentions. “Their heart is in the right place, but their thinking is a little shortsighted.”

After the bill easily passed in California’s Senate and Assembly last month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals praised the state for taking action where federal regulators had fallen short.

“By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal ‘production’ and suffering,” the organization said in a statement.

But Ben Ashel, a pet store owner in Agoura Hills, Calif., said the new law might have unintended effects by motivating more consumers to order dogs online or find sneakier ways to acquire the breeds they want.

His store, Puppy Heaven, specializes in matching owners with tiny dogs — teacup Yorkies and toy Maltipoos — and has a celebrity clientele. He said he was not sure what he would do once the law comes into effect.

“It takes the freedom of choice from people who want to get a puppy. They don’t want to get someone else’s unwanted dog or something of that nature,” he said, adding that some people need breeds that work well with children or accommodate allergies and other health issues.

“They just want to start fresh with a puppy, and this law makes it very, very difficult.”

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CHENNAI: Heart-wrenching visuals of a dog being strangled, posted on Facebook, has triggered shock in Chennai - a city that had been left outraged last year when two medical students filmed themselves throwing a mongrel down from a terrace.

The cellphone video - shot in the campus of Vellore Institute of Technology -- shows a black dog being dragged down a flight of stairs, two wire nooses wound tight around its neck. The men holding the nooses show no mercy even though the dog, clearly suffocating, thrashes around. Long before they reach a parked van, the dog collapses.

Locals say the men work for the Tambaram municipality in Chennai and were part of a dog-catching squad.

Dawn William from the Blue Cross, who filed a complaint with the police against the college and the municipality, said it is not known what the men were doing in the campus, since it does not come under the civic body's jurisdiction.

"What made them come there we don't know...We understand they caught eleven dogs this way. They are not saying where they buried the dog," he said.

The university authorities were not available for comments.

The Kancheepuram police said they were investigating the matter.

Last year, the outraged city had tracked down the medical students who threw the dog from the terrace of their two-storied apartment. Not only were they fined by a court, the private medical college they attended also suspended them.

The dog, which had broken a limb, was rescued and adopted by an activist.