If you are looking for a story that will tell you which breed suits your personality better, or what is new in the pet trend, then this might not be the right place, however, we suggest you to hold on for a moment and have a read. The issue we are actually going to address is far from being cute and cuddly, but still takes the face of the most widely accepted trend—the craze of expensive and foreign breeds of pets in India.
Being an Indian brings with a colourful spectrum of different mythologies, and we remember one such Hindu lore about Yudhishthir, and how he was accompanied by his dog to the heavenly abode. This proves that the pleasing relationship between pets and man has been going on since the golden age. From mythical references, to film stories, to emotional plots in books and novels, the examples of this bond never seizes to leave us emotional. However, in today’s world the whole array is changed, as these cherished breeds have fallen quite far from grace; and who is to blame for that? Us. Our incessant craze for foreign and expensive breeds has managed to push native breeds from home to streets. It is all about a status symbol now, that can be boosted through a bigger price tag and luxurious grooming. “For people who want to show off status or class, we urge them to stick to fancy handbags and sports cars (made using vegan leather, of course). Animals are not toys”, says Radhika Suryavanshi, Campaign Coordinator, PETA India.
When talking about the numbers, it is sad to say that many legendary Indian breeds are on the verge of extinction. Though there are various reason for the gradual disappearances and decline in interest, the primary cause is the arrival of exotic pets. We can easily see how the bloodlines of the locals were diluted by that of European imports. Another reason could be the influence of Indian entertainment culture. There is no denying the fact that when we watch something on TVs and films, we find a way to adopt that in our life. For instance, take the example of our most lovable pet of all time — dogs. The popularity of these animals is heavily shaped by the media industry. The year 2003, a Vodafone commercial aired featuring an adorable pug, which in turn fuelled the sale of the breed. But when owners discovered that these canines have respiratory problems, because they are bred to have that adorable flat face and short nose, they are abandoned to suffer by many. “Exotic breeds have been in the country for quite a few decades, but it has always been problematic for various reasons. One of the main issues is the demand for purebreeds, which results in a great deal of inbreeding; which in turn lowers immunity, encourages various breed-specific diseases and handicaps, as well as temperament issues. Many of these breeds require responsible pet owners and skilled management, which Indian owners are not known for. As a result, shelters receive abandoned pedigrees in large numbers, often suffering from chronic ill health and prolonged neglect.”, says Geeta Seshamani, Vice President of Friendicoes SECA. This is not a new problem either, as after the 1996 Disney movie, 101 Dalmatians, everyone wanted a black and white spotted dog. But soon, reality set in and abandoned Dalmatians were dotting our country’s streets.
Data shows that India’s pet shop industry is growing by 20 per cent every year on average. “80 per cent of all foreign breeds in India are weak and full of potential diseases. When you buy a dog, there is a 50 per cent chances it will already have parvo or distemper, or will be unsocialised because it has been taken far too soon from its mother. The selling and buying happens in black since it is illegal for any breeder or pet shop to sell animals without a license, but 99 per cent don’t have it”, says Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, People For Animals India Organisation. Yet somehow the industry is filled with unregulated breeders, and while there are many laws that ban the illegal breeding and import-export of different species, such illicit matters and sales are still looming large.
Somewhere in the race of trends, we managed to confuse the real meaning of the terms, expensive and exotic. However, the reality is not what we want to construe, but actually comprises cruel stories of suffering, unsanitary conditions, illegal capturing, and even death. In the excitement of showing off, we are actually forgetting that these foreign breeds are not suitable for our sub-continent. Panting pets that always look drained are unfortunately a common sight during summer. As people are turning more status-conscious, one can easily spot breeds of canines that were hitherto alien to us in city homes. “It’s not just the Indian climate that affects breeds that originate from different regions and climates. Climate is just one of the challenges. Frankly, most dogs get acclimatised to new weather conditions, if introduced gradually. It’s the lack of breeding knowledge and mental stimulation that are bigger areas of concerns”, says Anand Vishwanath, CEO and Founder of Anvis Pet Relocation & Anvis Inc, member of IPATA. Another issue with the foreign breeds is that we are unable to provide them with the kind of nutrition they require.
It is time for us to draw a line. A pet is a commitment for life and no amount of money or power can beat the seriousness of the responsibility that it is. “Dogs, cats and/or any other animals for that matter are sensitive beings with thoughts and feelings. They are not ours to buy and sell like rice or teacups”, says Radhika Suryavanshi. Furthermore, Geeta Seshamani says, "These breeds are neither a fashion statement nor meant to be a status symbol; to be acquired and tied to a person’s gates for the guard, taken for a walk once a day. It’s completely the antithesis of why a person should acquire a pet, be it pedigreed or desi. It’s meant to be a companion and a family member. Treat it like one.”
So, now the question is how much do you understand? How on earth did we get tangled in this atrocity in the name of a trend and fashion in the first place? When you decide to bring home a pet, you ultimately become a parent. They cannot speak for themselves, they are not capable of defending themselves, but your one act of love is all it takes for them to mark their life to you. So, in case you are planning to bring home a pet then instead of the word ‘attractive’ focus on ‘lifetime’.