While the city has lately witnessed a lot of public outrage over the death of three people in accidents caused by stray cattle,what is being ignored is that more than 1,600 stray animals have been injured in road accidents in the Tricity this year,a majority of which succumbed to their injuries.
According to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA),around 800 dogs and 270 cattle have been brought to their hospital-cum-animal-shelter this year,most of whom are accident victims. At least 50 per cent of the animals die either immediately or after a few days.
There are 3-4 cases of stray dogs each day. The actual number could be much more because many people dont bother informing the MC or our organisation whenever they accidentally hit an animal. They simply let it die and speed away. Most people dont consider it their personal responsibility to help an injured animal. I once saw an injured cow in the middle of the road which was being constantly hit by the oncoming traffic. Nobody bothered to stop and divert the traffic, said Neeru Sidhu,honorary general secretary,SPCA. According to Sidhu,most accidents involving stray animals occur either due to poor lighting on the roads or due to over-speeding.
People For Animals (PFA),another charitable organisation working for animals welfare,too,receives around 3-4 cases each day. On an average,we bring around two injured dogs from Chandigarh and one each in Panchkula and Mohali each day, said a member.
A large number of deaths also occur because of maggot-infestation once a dog is wounded. A small wound or cut,once infested with maggots,may become life-threatening if left untreated. There is also the threat of trauma after the accident. Many dogs get deeply disturbed and traumatised after an accident. They eventually lose their will to survive, said Abul Waafa,a senior surgeon in SPCA.
Apart from accidents,many dogs,horses and other animals are also abandoned once they get too old,and are no longer able to serve their masters. Many such animals find it hard to adjust to a life of vagrancy after being dependent on their owners for all their life,and thus,are more prone to accidents and other dangers. We have a horse whose front legs gave up after years of excessive burden. When that happened,they simply deserted him after having used him for his entire life, said Sidhu.
There is also the case of animals being deliberately injured by people. There are strict laws against hitting an animal or even shooing it away with a stick or a stone but they are rarely followed by the public. People often hit them with rods and injure them badly. In fact,people sometimes rebuke us for treating and sheltering injured animals.
However,a few lucky animals who are treated successfully may be adopted by somebody. According to Sidhu,it is generally the low-income families who adopt stray dogs. Affluent families tend to buy expensive breeds of dogs rather than adopting a stray, she said.
According to Municipal Corporation Joint Commissioner Rajiv Gupta,around 9-10 dogs are caught and sterilised everyday but theres no provision to guarantee the safety of these animals. A dog pound has been proposed by the MC but the land is yet to be allotted by the UT Administration.