Stray Dogs Started Turning Blue. Then the Street Mobilized.

When a community in Mumbai turned out to help the canines, it was in a long tradition of caring for “community dogs,” protected by Indian law.

Comments: 20

  1. Another advantage of Animals being everywhere is that people seldom have pet allergies.

  2. Wow - what an incredible article about an incredible society that cares for stray dogs. Sterilization and inoculations will prevent an out of control population crisis as well as keeping diseases like rabies from becoming an epidemic. Why that was never done in the past or until relatively recently is kind of strange, but the fact that it is occurring NOW is what matters. How interesting that these “blue” dogs served a similar purpose as canaries once did in coal mines – inadvertently alerting people of the pollution/danger in the water caused by “a dye company releasing products into a drainage ditch that flowed into a Mumbai river .” What I found truly heartwarming was “the poorest people living on the streets barely have enough food themselves, but they feed strays. And the rich, well, some go completely overboard.” I am enamored by their generosity of spirit and willingness to help creatures who have no other source of food or care. If only every society could adopt this philosophy and care not only for stray dogs, but any stray or injured animal, and most importantly, human beings who struggle every day for one decent meal.

  3. In reply to your comment calling for care of "any stray or injured animal", I'd like to mention the Jain Bird Hospitals of India. These amazing temples of avian compassion have been caring for the birds of their communities for many years. In fact, I first learned of the original Jain Bird Hospital in one of the first articles I ever read in the New York Times delivered to the home of a man I was dating in 1986. That article alone opened my young mind and heart to not only the mission of the Times but the wider, fascinating world it covered. Thanks, Hugh! And thanks to the Times, here it is again: Now, there are several such hospitals. Being a parent to a quirky feral pigeon I rescued off the streets of downtown Saint Louis 13 years ago, visiting one of these hospitals is at the top of my list of things to see when I finally make it to India, along with a visit to the dog charity as well!

  4. WOW - many thanks for the intel. I had no idea. And I was in error by only mentioning animals when in fact, I really did mean any creature that was a stray or injured. Thanks for clarifying and for adding your valuable and important information.

  5. Ah...the wonderful commenters to the animal articles of the NYTimes that seem to bring out the best in us. I can be a bit combative while commenting on other articles about the bewildering times consuming us all. But here, a Midwesterner and a coastal "elite" (not really but "stereotypes") set those perceived differences aside to share in the mutual love of animals and concern for their welfare. It gives me hope that someday, we'll rediscover the many things we share as Americans and get back to working together again for the good of country and planet.

  6. And those dogs are street smart, dodging cars and trucks. I don't recall seeing roadkill, anywhere. Amazing animals. I know in my travels in India, I've left scraps of street food on the sidewalks that they did not eat! Which made me laugh.

  7. A stray dog turning up it's nose to scraps of street food? That IS funny. What that shows is that these dogs eat pretty darn good on a regular basis. Good for them. And from a person who feeds the stray cats in our alley - thank you for being thoughtful and kind in your attempts to feed a stray dog.

  8. After reading about more tax cuts for the rich and the flat-out hostility for the poor, this article is a welcome relief to read about people who do care for "the least among us". During my trip to Bangkok, I saw packs of stray dogs cruising the streets that broke my heart. I so wanted to take a few home with me, even though I already had two kenneled at a "pet resort" back home. I was only there for a few days during a trip that also took me to China, so didn't have time to see if there was similar regard for stray dogs as in India. Being a Buddhist country, I thought there would be such concern, given the respect for all creatures and belief in reincarnation that is part of its system of beliefs. I did see empty food plates scattered here and there along the streets, so I concluded that someone seemed to care. I'm heartened to read about the charity in India that spays and neuters community dogs. This is foundational to reducing the population, improving their existence, and supporting the human community as well. If there are charities that should receive more attention and support, it's these kinds. I think I'll look them up right now. Humans seem to always have a champion somewhere. It's the animals with whom we share this planet who need and deserve more attention. In the end, it benefits the humans that share their community as well.

  9. Catch, neuter/vaccinate, and release is essential and the article doesn't mention whether it is happening or not. I know that Istanbul has such a program and the dogs participating get an ear tag and look healthy. Most poorer countries that try and promote tourism don't understand the importance of dealing with sad looking and mistreated dogs that are largely invisible to them. However, to tourists they are a shocking and detrimental sight. Kabul Afghanistan has abundant garbage and their street dogs aren't skinny, however diseases keep their population under control.

  10. "In Mumbai, a dozen robust charities, including one called The Welfare of Stray Dogs, cruise around the city, treating sick dogs and taking healthy ones to animal hospitals for vaccinations and sterilizations before depositing them back exactly where they were found, as the law requires. (It’s illegal here to displace a dog.)"

  11. Since globalization much of India has changed but thankfully this aspect of caring for animals of all kinds remains unchanged - dogs, monkeys, cows - you name it and someone cares for them. These stray dogs just don't eat and sleep - they bark at burglars, chase away leopards, and known to stop many a crime.

  12. I nominate India as dominant world power.

  13. The Times of India has been reporting on the Kerala massacres of strays for the past 2 years -- it must stop. Rabies is infrequent and it can be managed cheaply by vaccine. If you have a chance to visit Kerala, let your hosts know that you are against these killings and will not come back if it doesn't stop.

  14. As a caring and compassionate long time dog owner I understand the love and compassion for the dogs all over the world. However, with all due respect, most of the NY readers have little understanding of stray dog menace in India. Like many other things Indians have gone overboard on stray dog feeding and protection. Most of the nights, people have difficult time to sleep due to packs of dogs that go on howling for hours. Stays chase and attack old people, woman, and children, especially in the poorer and middle class neighborhoods, who are not able to run and escape or chase strays away. It is heartbreaking to read about mauling and killing of children by strays, which has become too common these days. In addition, 'stray dog lovers of India' are almost like vigilantes, attacking and silencing any one and every one who dare to question the menace of strays. Most appalling, of course, the stench and mess of the dog poop everywhere; well who cares, it is already a messy and dirty country any way, 30 million stray dog poop washing into water streams and beds, imagine the health hazard!!

  15. They understand why dog is god in reverse.

  16. I LOVE your post David, agree completely and think it should be a NYT Pick!

  17. They're great with supporting dogs; it's just people they have trouble with. the Indian rich will feed dogs chicken delights while people starve and defecate in the streets-- "invisibly." The homeland of hypocrisy. Let it also be noted taht the great reverence for cows is also a tool to subordinate Muslim Indians.

  18. Thank you for another interesting take on life in India - and Mumbai, in particular. I live part time in Mumbai - near one of the most expensive hospitals in India that caters to the rich and famous. Take my word, stray dogs may bark supposedly to ward off robbers and the ilk, but in my neighborhood, they are keeping patients and untold number of my neighbors awake. A little background on this "law" about dogs. A politician - well connected to a "royal" family of Indian politics, Ms. Maneka Gandhi used this issue to get to the front of Indian cut throat politics. By achieving a certain level of power, she was also putting her ex mother in law in shame and now, the surviving sister in law of hers. A bit complicated, perhaps. So, now she lives in a big bunglow built by the Brits in New Delhi. I have been by her house. Forget stray dogs, unless well connected and bearing special gifts, they will not allow even to stop near her bungalow. She is notorious for treating and humiliating her staff and others - worse than dogs. Now, these two rich ladies in Mumbai - if they cared as much would find facilities for these dogs to sleep other than near hospitals. I have been to many parts of India where you are afraid to walk because of these menacing dogs. Finally, judging from atrocities committed by Indians against fellow Indians in name of religion, ethnicity, cow killing - you name it - should give a pause to these folks below lauding this Indian effort.

  19. Jeffrey Gettleman's article on India's 30 Million Stray Dogs, Sept. 28, 2017. I am grateful to learn from this article that India's Constitution promotes compassion for all animals and prohibits the killing of stray dogs. Is India the only country with a Constitution like that in the world? Probably. It even insists that stray dogs brought to animal hospitals for vaccination and spaying should be brought back to the neighborhood they are familiar with. This is more than the so-called animal love; it shows respect for animals' emotions and inner welfare. I believe Indians' deep compassion for animals is rooted in three of India's ancient religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, all three of which emphasize that all living things have souls. In India's epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (the latter is the longest of its kind), animals and birds are important characters. One of the versions of the Ramayana opens with writer's raising his hand to tell a hunter, in Sanskrit, "Ma, nishada!" meaning, "Don't. hunter." The central tenet of Buddhism is compassion toward people, animals, birds, and nature. It is amazing that despite repeated conquests and tremendous economic, social, and political changes, at the core of the Indian heart there's compassion. True, stray dogs and cows create disease-breeding sanitary conditions; however, as more and more Indians get educated and the country prospers, animal care would, one hopes, receive greater attention than now.

  20. I appreciate animal control departments in the US that adhere to stricter policy and enforcement to keep animal situations from becoming this bad in the first place. Sterilization and release of animals doesn't work and isn't going to fix this. It has no record of success for feral cats in the developed world despite the claims of animal rights groups who promote it to obstruct euthanasia. Also worth mentioning is the increasing scientific evidence that brain-infecting parasites like toxoplasmosis are weapons in the animal kingdom as conventional as teeth and claws, and promote behavior in their victims that serves to maintain a chain of transmission. It is just possible that recognizing and treating an infectious component of the problematic human behaviors (unlawful breeding and hoarding) could be the key.