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Tag: india

What’s turning dogs blue in Mumbai?

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The Mumbai Blue Dogs may sound like a minor league baseball team, but they are real dogs who, thanks to chemicals dumped in a river in India, are really turning blue.

“Handfuls” of blue dogs — all strays — are appearing on the streets of Mumbai, local animal advocates report.

While we can’t vouch for how authentic these photos are, or if they’ve been doctored, we can confirm that the news is real.

Jayavant Hajare, an officer with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board told the Hindustan Times that five to six dogs entered an area along the Kasadi River that was cordoned off to the public and emerged with a blue cast to their fur.

Industrial waste is regularly dumped into the river in Mumbai, whose waters have long been deemed unfit for human consumption, but the latest surge in blue dog sightings has prompted animal advocates to urge the government to take action against companies.

The pollution control board says it is investigating.

“Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” a spokesman said.

The spokesman said one company, which uses a blue dye to make laundry detergent, has been given seven days notice to cease dumping the pollutant into the river.

Studies quoted in local newspapers show pollution levels in the area — home to nearly a thousand pharmaceutical, food and engineering factories — have risen to 13 times the “safe limit.”

Last week, animal advocates officers took pictures of stray dogs who had turned blue and forwarded them to the pollution control board.

bluedog3(News reports don’t indicate the original source of the photo above, or the one at left, so it’s not clear if they are photos supplied by the animal protection group. At least one news organization describe the photo at top as a “representational image.”)

“It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan, with the animal protection group. “We have spotted almost five such dogs here and have asked the pollution control board to act against such industries.”

“We have only spotted blue dogs so far. We do not know if birds, reptiles and other creatures are affected or if they have even died owing to the dye discharged into the air,” said Chauhan.

A flurry of news reports has called attention to the blue dogs in recent days, but they are not a new phenomenon.

Here’s a photo that appeared in a 2013 entry on this travel blog. It was taken on what’s known as Blue Dog Street.

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Dog owners in India going to the wall to find mates for their dogs

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Some well-to-do dog owners in India have taken to posting public notices of their dogs’ desire to hook up with a canine of the opposite sex — most often one of the same breed.

“Lonely, fair, and handsome, three-year-old Golden Labrador (Ludhiana caste, settled in Delhi) seeks homely female of the same community. Must be blonde, slim, beautiful, well-behaved, well-groomed, smart with good family values,” read one, posted on a wall in Delhi’s ritzy Khan neighborhood.

Other posts on the wall are from a “single and ready to mingle,” setter-retriever mix, and a “spunky” Maltese in search of Miss Right.

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It’s being done in a playful spirit, Scroll reported, but it’s not immediately clear whether those posting such notices are having a little fun, truly seeking breeding companions for their dogs, or a little of both.

And if it’s a case of novices jumping on the bandwagon to try their hands at dog breeding, that raises some concerns among animal welfare organizations.

“This is probably the dog owners’ way of showering love on their dog, or just being cute,” said Pallavi Dar, who volunteers at a shelter in Noida. “But how many of them really know that dog breeding – even if you are not a professional breeder – is serious business? You can’t just mate your dog and give away or sell off puppies – you need to have a licence for that.”

Others feel there is nothing wrong with seeking a love connection for their canine.

“If humans can have matrimonials, why not dogs?” asked Atul Khanna, who put up a poster in Khan Market looking for a mate for his dog Moltu, a two-and-a-half-year-old Maltese.

Moltu, though described as both “independent and spunky,” has yet to get any responses. But, his owner said, patience is key when looking for a mate.

(Photos: Scroll)

Returning from an exotic locale? Chances are you can bring someone home with you

wapo2We don’t expect Donald Trump to like this (so don’t anyone let him know) but if you’re returning from a trip to some exotic locale — Mexico, Thailand, South Korea, India, Turkey, Colombia, and the Carribean to name a few — you can bring someone back with you to live in the good old USA forever.

And you don’t even have to marry them — or even ever see them again.

Yes, we’re talking about dogs. (Aren’t we almost always?)

But we’re also talking about an easy-lifting way to accomplish a good deed and play a small role in making a dog and a family happy.

Our country’s incoming new leadership may no longer wants those tired, poor and hungry humans we once welcomed from other countries, but the door is still pretty open for dogs (my dog included) that have been saved from horrific conditions in other countries.

Many of them have gotten here thanks to Americans returning from vacations, who are willing to take a little extra time to serve as their official escorts.

How it all works was documented recently by The Washington Post, in a story by Andrea Sachs, who not only talked to people who have done it, but did it herself.

Sachs recently returned from a trip to Colombia with a dog named Max.

“To unknowing eyes, I was just a typical traveler with a strong pet attachment. But in truth I was a flight volunteer for Cartagena Paws, an animal-rescue center that, among myriad services, places Colombian street dogs with adoptive families in North America. My ultimate responsibility was to escort the 8-month-old puppy with the overactive tail to the District. I was headed north anyway, and, well, Max needed a lift.”

There are animal welfare groups around the world rescuing dogs who face bleak lives, or worse, and then finding themselves hard-pressed to find them homes.

One solution they’ve turned to is exporting rescued dogs to the U.S.

Often, though, they need a little help getting them from there to here.

“We use flight volunteers who are met at the airport by the adoptive parents,” said Lisa Anne Ramirez, executive director of the Humane Society of Cozumel Island in Mexico. Those meetings, she says are “usually very emotional and tearful.”

While most airlines will ship a dog traveling solo in their cargo holds, that’s the most expensive and least desirable method.

Dogs are generally permitted to travel as checked baggage, or as carry-ons in the cabin, but in those cases they must be traveling with someone.

The rescue organizations handle the paperwork, so, for the escort, it’s often just a matter of handing those papers over at customs.

Sasithorn “Sas” Moy of Harlem said little inconvenience was involved after she agreed to escort five dogs from Thailand to the U.S. when returning from a trip to visit family.

She contacted the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation, which sends at least 25 dogs to North America a month.

“I just showed up at the airport and they gave me the paperwork,” she explained after a nearly 20-hour flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. “I said goodbye to the dogs at the X-ray machine. It was painless… There was extra time on the front end and the back end, but it was worthwhile.”

wapo1Sachs advises in the article that travelers wishing to serve as flight volunteers contact the rescue center as soon as they secure their flights.

“I messaged Cartagena Paws two weeks before my departure and received a reply peppered with exclamation points: We would love to have some help! Yes please!”

She and Max flew from Cartagena to Atlanta to Washington — he making the trip next to her in a carrier in the cabin. In Washington, he was picked up for a trip to his new home in Texas.

Sachs also put together a list of international rescues seeking escorts for dogs coming into the United States. You can find more details and contact information at that link.

(Photos: Max arrives in Washington from Cartagena, Columbia, and waits to make the trip to his forever home in San Antonio; volunteers at Cartagena Paws say goodbye to Max at the airport in Cartagena; by Andrea Sachs /The Washington Post)

India establishes its first blood bank for dogs

A blood bank for dogs has been launched for the first time in India.

The blood bank has been set up so that middle class dog owners can get treatment for pets injured in road accidents, which are becoming more prevalent in the country due to increasing urbanization and traffic.

“This is the first blood bank of its kind in the country,” Vice Chancellor P. Thangaraju, of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in the city of Madras,  told the BBC.

“Dogs get frequently injured – not only while crossing roads but also in and around the many multi-story apartments that exist across the country,” he said.

Dr. Thangaraju said that the lack of availability of blood has become a major cause of death among dogs, especially when the animals require surgery.

He said that appeals for volunteers to come forward and donate blood from their dogs had been “encouraging”, although he expected it would take some time before a satisfactory reserve had been built up.

Although there are no plans at present to make the blood bank a profit-making enterprise, he said it could happen in the future —  depending upon the availability of blood.

He said that the collection and storing of canine blood was the same as the process used to collect human blood and that stringent measures would be taken to ensure that donated blood is free from infection.

Figures produced by the university show that about 100,000 pets – the overwhelming majority of which are dogs – are treated by veterinary hospitals every year in India.

Experts say that the blood donations, while they will benefit dogs kept as pets in India, will be of little help to the estimated 8 million stray dogs in the country.

India to free zoo and circus elephants

elephantsAll elephants living in Indian zoos and circuses will be moved to wildlife parks and game sanctuaries where the animals can graze more freely, officials at Indian’s Central Zoo Authority announced earlier this month.

The order followed complaints and pressure from animal rights activists about elephants that are kept in captivity, often chained for long hours and unable to roam.

The elephants are to be moved to “elephant camps” run by the government’s forest department and located near protected areas and national parks. There they would be able to roam and graze freely, but “mahouts,” or traditional elephant trainers, would still keep an eye on them, according to an Associated Press report.

The decision affects around 140 elephants in 26 zoos and 16 circuses in the country. It does not affect the 3,500 elephants that live in captivity in temples, or logging camps where they are used to lift timber.

Research has shown that elephants in the wild live longer and have better health and reproductive records than those in captivity. Zoo elephants often die prematurely and contract diseases or suffer obesity and arthritis more frequently than in their natural habitats.

India has an estimated 28,000 wild elephants living in forest reserves and national parks, mainly in the southern and northeastern parts of the country.

In India, online doggie dating thrives

Wealthy dog owners in India are turning to online canine dating services to find dogs for their dogs to romp with.

And we’re using “romp” in all meanings of the word.

“A lot of dog owners want their dogs to have doggy friends with whom they can play and have their own fun time,” says Geetika Nigam, who launched the 6,500-user-strong Puppy Love  community two years ago.

Just like human dating sites, dog owners can upload photos, blog, search for the perfect match and set up dates, according to a Reuters article.

Many of the dogs are pedigreed — and some owners are looking for a dog to breed their dog with — but others are simply trying to set up play dates.

“People are very happy that finally someone has taken up this cause,” says Mumbai-based Mekhala Lobo, who spotted a business opportunity in her newly launched Date Your Pet  website.

“Believe me, in the dog world, finding a mate is next to impossible,” the MBA student said. And harder yet for the males. “Families generally prefer keeping male dogs so females are always in demand,” Nigam, who also owns a dog-grooming business, said.

Ishita Sukhadwala set up DogMateOnline in 2008 to help her cousin’s 6-year-old Doberman Rocky find a mate. “It was more out of necessity than anything else,” she said.

Rocky had a profile set up on the website, but he died before a potential match was found.

Pet ownership has boomed in India, thanks to its growing ranks of wealthy, middle and upper class professionals who are also driving sales of luxury goods. But for the vast majority of the country, which lives on between $1 and $2 a day, pets are not an option. Stray dogs are also often beaten, herded into trucks, poisoned and dumped into pits by government workers.

It’s a life of luxury for many dogs in India

In a country of more than a billion mostly poverty-stricken people, the status of dogs —  purebreds at least — is reaching new heights.

India, home to nearly half of the world’s hungry, has seen a surge in pricey dogs (including pugs, like the one pictured, featured in the advertising of a cell phone company, Vodaphone) and pricey dog goods and services.

it’s not uncommon for wealthy families to spend more on imported dog food in a week than the weekly budget of the 420 million Indians officially classified as poor.

Pets are becoming big business in India, and predictions are that the industry will continue to experience annual growth of 10-15 percent, Agence France-Presse reports — even though about 40 percent of India’s population lives below the global poverty line of less than $1.25 a day.

India’s pet industry is valued at around $45 million dollars annually, according to the research firm Euromonitor, compared to the annual $40 billion dollars of the U.S. market.

Experts say that thanks to the economic boom of the past decade, pets have become status symbols in a society that is seeing shifts in its family structure.

“Often both parents work and there’s no longer any grandparents around for the children to come home to, only the maid,” said Linda Brady Hawke, publisher of Indian pet care magazine Creature Companion. “An animal is something which will greet the children with love,” she said.

Among the breeds seeing increasingly popularity are Great Danes, dalmatians, Afghan hounds and pugs, which soared in popularity after one was featured in a mobile phone TV advertisement.

Labradors and golden retrievers have shown staying power, with owners willing to spend up to 300,000 rupees (6,000 dollars) for a championship-level imported purebred specimen — and to leave the air-conditioning on so thick-coated breeds such as giant St. Bernards won’t perish in the summer heat, the article says.

Money’s not an object, either, with many clients of ScoobyScrub, offering such services as “full body massage” and hair streaking, which can cost up to 1,000 rupees, more than most maids earn in a week.

“Families want to spend more on pets whether it’s branded foods or toys — that’s part of the ‘humanization’ process” of the animal, said Euromonitor researcher Yvonne Kok.