How to Save 100,000 Stray Dogs in India
How to prevent over 100,000 stray dogs from being added to the stray dog population
Sounds crazy right? According to this article and many others that back this claim, one unaltered female dog can create 67,000 dogs in 6 years. Jaw dropped. Given this math, our project of spaying 8 puppies a mother (5 females, 3 males) would easily create over 402,000 puppies over 6 years. Now if you go by this math, you would think that would simply be billions of puppies and dogs on the streets of India. Well, there would be, if most of the puppies didn’t die within the first year of their birth from things like distemper, parvo, heat, cold, starvation, run over by cars, other dogs, people. That is why you don’t see the increase in dogs year after year. So I’m sandbagging heavily here and bringing that number down to a modest 100,000 over 6 years.
Julie and I are volunteering (Seva) while we are in India on our December 2019-early 2020 trip and one of the projects we are working on is making Chandigarh Golf Club, a rabies and puppy free zone. SevaStray can't exist without doing the Seva and understanding how hard the work is that is involved in helping the stray dogs.
This project involved a large effort by one of our Seva Stray partners Peedus People and the Golf Club. We will share more about this project as it gets completed. As part of the survey for the project, we found 8 puppies that were estimated to be slightly older than 3 months and in good health. They were perfect candidates for the work that Peedus People is doing, which is spaying and neutering young stray dogs.
Convincing India on the benefits of spaying and neutering stray dogs as puppies or young adults
It was not an easy task in terms of convincing the dog lovers and the golf club staff that sterilizing puppies is normal and can be done as early as 8 weeks old. I believe it helped that Inder from Peedus People spent 2 years in Animal Control in the United States before moving back to India and that Julie and I are from the US and mentioned that it is a normal process to spay and neuter puppies. We also explained all of the benefits which include:
- Capturing the puppies. The puppies literally come to you! This is by far the hardest challenge in stray dog spay and neuter programs.
- Healing superpowers: Their ability to heal sooner than adults. The puppies are growing so fast and their bodies heal much faster than adult dogs. During the second day, the male puppies' incisions were almost fully healed.
- The multiplier effect - Being able to do handle multiple dogs at one time. In our case, we were able to spay and neuter 4 dogs in one day, which is so hard to pull off with adult dogs. Simply put, they are much easier to handle, transport and board.
- Behavior - The lack of testosterone reduces aggression and makes them less territorial. The females also don’t go in heat and attract males along with many of the health benefits like reducing the risk of cancer.
Preparations for snip day
The first part of the process involved making sure that the puppies were healthy enough to go through the surgery. Two weeks before the surgery, we dewormed them and then followed up with parvo and distemper vaccinations. Once the puppies were healthy and vaccinated, we decided that the mom needed to stay with all of the puppies during the entire process and since she was no longer lactating, it was a perfect opportunity to spay her and let her recover with her puppies.
On the first day, we took four female puppies to the vet and one by one had their sterilization done. They were so sweet and trusting in us, and the veterinary doctor did a phenomenal job of making the smallest incision possible. There was a lot of cuddling and puppy talk involved before and after the surgeries to keep them calm and warm. All four of the surgeries went really well, the puppies came back to the golf club to heal in a clean, dry and warm area built specifically for the dogs.
The next morning, Inder from Peedus People helped take the remaining four puppies to the vet and Julie and I attempted to capture the mom so we could keep her with the pups. Capturing an adult stray dog is one of the biggest challenges. Even though Octomom really trusted us and gave us lots of love and affection, she was still very cautious and would not let her guard down to allow us to pick her up. Luckily, she was very food motivated so I was able to use a simple travel kennel to lure her in and close the door behind her.
During the entire project at the golf club, we are making sure that we are using the most humane processes of capturing the dogs. We want to make sure that the dogs never get injured, traumatized, or become afraid of humans in the process. We handle the transportation cautiously and talk to the puppies and the adult dogs along the entire process, keeping them calm and relaxed.
Once at the vet, the four puppies and the mom received their surgeries within a few hours and we’re back at the golf club healing together.
Post Care Efforts
Over the next four days, it was critical that we kept a very close eye on the puppies and the mom as there were so many dogs to monitor. They received daily antibiotics, multivitamins, wound cleaning treatments and twice a day feeding and cage cleaning. The greatest thing was to see how many people wanted to help with this project! There were only a few volunteers between Julie and I, Shifali and Inder from Peedus People but we kept meeting people that loved these dogs and the project. We met a gentleman, Captain Lalit, who had been caring for the puppies and their mother for a few months and he provided lots of food, support, dry bedding every single day.
“You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather”
...are the lyrics of the Outkast song that kept playing through my head for the last 2 days of the post-care. The weather was not on our side, although it doesn’t rain much in this area it happened to be three straight days of rain and cold weather.
With the support of the golf club, we jumped in and put extra coverage against rain right away. Captain Lalit, brought in tens of dry burlap sacks that we could use as bedding and we were able to keep the puppies dry warm and healthy through the process and they healed really well.
The release party
Five days after the surgery, we had a big release party and everyone was so excited to be part of it. It was so special to see all of the puppies going back to their areas and the mom being able to run around freely again. The first thing that the mom did was that she ran into the middle of the golf range and took a giant poop. Ahhh…. finally!
Why not just adopt all the stray dogs in India?
Most Indians are not yet adopting dogs, the breeding of purebred dogs is still the 'cool trend' and the awareness on how amazing the Desi (Indie) dogs are is lacking. Peedus People and many other organizations are working hard to change this mindset and holding adoption drives at different locations but without much success. Things are changing, but just not at the rate of the puppy birth rates. We’re not giving up! We’re going to continue trying to bring the puppies to adoption drives, talk to everyone we know. If we can only save one, that will be a success.
We must be patient and strong
Although we started feeling great about the work that we all put in and wanted to pat ourselves on the back, the feeling of success was short-lived. We walked about 100 yards away from these puppies and found 5 additional puppies that are about 1 month old.
Back to work, time to start deworming and vaccinating these pups, waiting another 2 months so we can repeat the work again. We simply can’t give up, too many people have tried these projects in the past and have given up because of the overwhelming work ahead.
We have so much respect for the organizations that do this work day in and day out without giving up. Thank you so much!
How you could help
If you read the post this far, I want to thank you for your interest, it truly means a lot. If you would like to support the work being done at the Golf Club, we urge you to help in the following way:
- Adopt - If you're in Chandigarh, or India or even in the US. Please consider adopting one of these puppies. You may not change the world, but you'll change the world for the one dog that you save.
- Thank the golf club by emailing them to allow Peedus People and Julie and I to take on this project and providing the resources needed such as space for post-care.
- Donate to Peedus People so they can continue to fund the vaccinations and sterilization costs.
- Shop on SevaStray.com where we are donating to causes like the spay and neuter campaigns and other
- Share the story, perhaps it will motivate someone to take action and help in any way they can.
If you are reading this and you’re in India, please know that you too can make a difference. Don’t wait for the government, don’t wait for a non-profit, don’t wait for someone else to help the dogs that are suffering every day on the streets. There are 30-35 Million stray dogs in India, and although the problem seems overwhelming, all you have to do is start with helping one dog. Whether you’re a dog lover or hate the stray dogs, spay and neuter programs help everyone. We ask that you do some research on finding your local non-profit or talking to a vet that will help you take on a project to help make your area where you live a puppy free and rabies-free zone. You can do this, we know because we did this in our neighborhood and we aren’t dog experts.
Teamwork makes the dream work
This was one of the most challenging volunteer projects but also the most rewarding. It would not have been possible without the financial and volunteer support of many people that came forward to help. Friends coming to volunteer with us in the middle of the night, my family for sponsoring the spaying and neutering of all of the puppies financially.
Special thanks to:
Our Vet- Thank you for taking on a project that not a lot of Indian vets take on for many reasons, mostly the lack of training in young dog sterilizations.
Peedus People - Inder and Shifali for allowing us to volunteer with you and for all of your efforts in organizing the sterilizations.
Captain Lalit - For sponsoring Octamom's surgery and being a dog lover that has been taking care of the puppies and their mom for months, the mom had almost died in the past and they nursed and fed her back to good health.
My Mom - for sponsoring 4 of the female puppies and their expenses.
My Brother and sister in law - for sponsoring the 3 female puppies and 1 male.
My Dad - for organizing a meeting with the golf club
President Sandhu - for approving the project and allowing us to do the work.
Col Johal General Manager Golf Club - for taking on the project and providing the staff support.
Surjeet Singh- Assistant General Manager and the Golf Club Staff.
Thank you all for reading the post.
🙏🏾Sat Sri Akal, Namaste 🙏🏾