Romeo was a two-month-old puppy when he was first rescued from the street after his mother was killed in a road accident. He is now an 11-month-old Indian pariah dog (Canis lupus familiaris), commonly referred to as the urban street dog, and has been put up for adoption, but there are no takers.
"When we found him, he was malnourished," said Aravind P, a resident of Madhapur who works in the oil industry. Aravindâ€™s roommate adopted the dog but soon lost interest in caring for the dog. Aravind left Romeo inside the Blue Cross premises at Jubilee Hills, hoping that the organisation would care for the dog.
"A friend of mine agreed initially adopted the dog but soon lost interest in caring for the dog. At his behest we put up Romeo's pictures on Facebook for adoption, a few people called but they were looking for pedigree or mixed breeds. For nine months, we tried to get the dog adopted but no one asked for him because of his breed," he added.
In Hyderabad, there is little or no demand for Indian breeds that are often put up for adoption and the demand is even lesser if the dog is female. Those who rescue these dogs often find it difficult to find them homes. Some rescued dogs are abandoned and end up on the streets yet again.
Vasanthi, the president of Blue Cross, prefers not to use the term "Indian Pariah dogs" for Indian dog breeds.
"There is a lot of common misconception about these dogs, that they are feral, dangerous and that they are biters,â€ť she shares. â€śIt's not true for Indian dogs and the term 'Indian pariah' perpetuates that negative connotation. I even advice people not to call them street dogs."
While Blue Cross no longer conducts rescue drives, a lot of dogs are abandoned at their centre.
"We get abandoned dogs all the time. People abandon dogs in the streets, at hospitals and at all possible places. They don't consider the dogs as part of the family, but more like a possession. When we confront people who abandon the dogs, they cite reasons saying they are either leaving the country or that there is a newborn in the house and the doctor has advised them to remove the dog," Vasanthi added.
The demand for female dogs is much lesser.
Molly rescued Bugsy, a two-month-old puppy of Indian breed who had a leg injury.
"We tried to get her adopted for two months and took her to several adoption drives, but no one wanted her because she limps and also because she is female. People think because they menstruate it gets difficult to take care of female dogs. It's a matter of training but people find it difficult," she added.
Bugsy now lives with Molly, along with Ivory, her 11-month-old female Labrador.
"Even my Labrador is a female. We got her because she was the last of her litter to be adopted. All the males were sold but no one wanted to buy the female Labrador, so we took her in," said Molly. "Now the duo competes for my attention; even if I call Ivory, Bugsy shows up first," she added.
Adoption and Animal Birth Control (ABC)
Adoption is not all about finding a home for the homeless, explained Vijayalakshmi, a school principal from Hyderabad who helps in the adoption of Indian dog breeds.
It runs parallel to Animal Birth Control, which is used to reduce the population of the Indian breeds.
"But what about the ones who are already born? This is where adoption comes into play, else they will multiply in progression," said Vijayalakshmi.
"Spaying is a part of the adoption drives, where dogs are sterilized either with the help of the GHMC or Blue Cross," she added.
Blue Cross still conducts adoption drives.
"The Blue Cross concept has changed,â€ť said Vasanthi, adding that the organisation now focuses on long-term animal welfare through ABC.
'We feel if we tackle the problem of Indian dog population, we will be able to reduce rescues and abandonment and tackle other problems," she added.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal corporation in 2017 recorded as many as 8.4 lakh street dogs as compared to 5 lakh in 2014. The GHMC operates five Anil Birth Control (ABC) centres tasked with controlling the animal population, namely the Indian breeds.
The rise in dog population has a direct correlation to the process by which GHMC carries out their ABC programme and the availability of food for the dogs.
"GHMC is not doing the ABC scientifically because of which the dog population has gone up. The lack of proper waste management is also a cause for dogs to gather where there is more food available on the streets," explained Vasanthi.
"If one wishes to remove dogs in your area in a humane way, just stop throwing food in the streets. If no food is available, the dogs will go elsewhere," she added.
People For Animals (PFA) is now accepting volunteers who can keep a watch of the dogs and the dog population in their local communities.
Many animal rights activists suggest that the female street dogs be neutered to stabilise the dog population and eventually bring it down.
PFA is willing to help the public who have a high dog population in their streets through their helpline: 9809993374.