Purebred dogs have become a new passion in Lucknow, India--a major metropolitan area and capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Rare breeds and large dogs are becoming a status symbol and bring astronomical amounts of money to breeders, the Times of India reports.
An official of the Oudh Kennel Club states that the increase in popularity of exotic and rare breeds is related to the ease of import now, with unique foreign breeds easily brought into the country and Indian residents willing to spend whatever is necessary to have a dog with pride of ownership.
A veterinarian and secretary of the Lucknow Canine Practitioner's Club said, We organize a dog show every year...Last year, we had 33 to 35 different breeds at the show…Pitbulls, Belgium Shepherds, Chihuahua and Mastiffs were some among them.”
He also noted that people are becoming “more inclined toward ferocious breeds,” with gentle Golden Retrievers and Labradors greatly declining in popularity.
Having dogs that are registered with the Kennel Club has also become important, and dog owners boast about owning certain breeds. A resident of Phoolbagh, named Kamran, proudly told the Times, “ All my dogs are imported and registered with the Kennel Club of India.”
Another dog owner, who resides in Kakori, near Lucknow, shared that he chose a Tibetan Mastiff because the breed is known for its ferocious nature. He said, “I always wanted a ferocious dog. I got mine through a friend from Punjab."
The Times of India also interviewed a student who has spent an outrageous amount on a pair of Pit Bulls, importing the male from Poland for a lakh, which is over $2,100. His female Pit Bull, Bella, is an Indian born puppy with an imported pedigree, he said and cost “a steep price.”
This demand has created a booming industry for professional dog breeders, with one stating that he paid “1 lakh 65 thousand” just to mate his female Doberman with a male that was Dog of the Year in several shows.
While there is a huge market in the country for imported purebreds, the breeding boom in India is also developing a market for exporting expensive dogs.
STREETS THRONGED WITH STRAYS
While the dog breeding business has skyrocketed into a boom in Lucknow recently, the New York Times tells a much different story about canines and “streets thronged with strays baring fangs.”
Dog attacks numbered in the hundreds on a recent day, the New York Times describes--"children cornered in their homes, students ambushed on the way to class and old men ambling back from work all became victims.”
No country has as many stray dogs as India, the New Delhi Journal states, and no country suffers as much from them.
“Free-roaming dogs number in the tens of millions and bite millions of people annually,” the report states. It is estimated 20,000 people die every year from rabies infections in New Delhi — which is more than a third of the global rabies toll.
A 2001 law prohibits the killing of dogs in India, and the stray population has increased so much that officials across the country have expressed alarm. Packs of dogs lurk on corners and attack in public parks—so jogging, engaging in any sport, and just walking a pet dog is both perilous and foolhardy.
A member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly reportedly proposed in June 2012 sending strays to China — where dogs are sometimes eaten — after more than 15,000 people in the state reported being bitten the previous year. In New Delhi, officials recently announced an intensified sterilization campaign.
DOG BITES CAUSE 99 PERCENT OF HUMAN RABIES DEATHS
“Dogs essentially started out as scavengers,” says Dr. John Bradshaw, director of the Anthropology Institute at the University of Bristol in Britain., “They evolved to hang around people rather than to be useful to them.”
In India today, however, strays still survive on mounds of garbage in the streets. “The first thing you need to start doing to reduce the stray population is manage your garbage better,” Arpan Sharma of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations told the New Delhi Journal, “And the second thing is very aggressive spaying, neutering and vaccinating of animals.”
Most animal welfare advocates, however, adamantly oppose euthanasia, warning that reducing the stray population would leave vast mounds of garbage in which rats might thrive in dogs’ place. Hindus oppose the killing of many kinds of animals.
Experts interviewed by the New Delhi Journal said that India’s stray problem will not improve until a canine contraceptive vaccine, now in the lab, became widely and inexpensively available.
Dr. Rosario Menezes, a pediatrician from Goa, told the New Delhi Journal that dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means euthanizing them, he said. “I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs,” he said.
BOOM IN EXOTIC DOG BREEDING VS. THE STRAY-DOG PROBLEM
The Journal report acknowledges that India’s burgeoning middle class has begun to adopt Western notions of pet ownership, including buying pedigreed dogs and keeping them indoors as family members.
But, it also predicts that the transition to Western ways in more affluent communities does not mandate the sweeping changes needed to effectively reduce strays and that many of the expensive pedigreed dogs will merely add to the problem by ending up on the street—“the castoffs of unsuccessful breeders or owners who tire of the experiment,” the New Delhi Journal opines.