Dogs are an integral part of India’s culture and their bond with humans is clearly seen on the streets of Ranchi, India. They grace every doorstep and garden, confident of their right to be there – at least until the dog-catching team arrives, when they howl a warning and scatter!
It was interesting to document the clever and tactical manoeuvres needed to catch the dogs, and to note that many, once vaccinated, were released immediately, their snipped ear signifying that they had previously been neutered. In the vet clinic, an efficient system was in place to enable the mammoth task of neutering 40 dogs a day. Technicians carried out their own special area of expertise to prepare the dogs for surgery, then the experienced Mayhew-trained vets completed the task.
Local people are extremely grateful to Mayhew – they told me that their dogs were gentler once neutered, less likely to fight, and now that there was no fear of rabies they were happier for their children to play with the dogs and stroke them.
I was sad to leave the team, but I took with me a huge admiration for the work HOPE tirelessly carries out to reduce and control the dog population, protecting them against rabies and improving the lives of the street dogs. A lasting memory of my trip is sitting in a room surrounded by dogs – 40 to be precise – wondering how I managed to find myself here, given that I used to be frightened of them. I was amazed at how calm, happy and affectionate they were.
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