Saturday, 3 December, 2022
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How to keep dogs safe this Diwali without offending your religion

If nothing convinces Indians to stop bursting crackers, remember it affects cows and their milk too.

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Permanent deafness, blindness, loss of appetite and panic attacks that could lead to heart failure and death – these are just some of the effects that bursting crackers can have on animals. Apart from the more common shivering and howling while India bursts crackers.

Diwali is basically like a terrorist attack for frightened, traumatised animals and birds – it wouldn’t be a gross eye-rolling exaggeration to say this. With no context or comprehension for the sudden madness, the thunderous sound of non-stop crackers and smoke is a calamity for them.

Ask any veterinarian, and they will tell you that the cases of animal injuries shoot up every year after Diwali. Not to mention the cries for help on Facebook and WhatsApp with pictures of injured dogs and news of children tying crackers to their tails.

Also read: New green crackers promise all the Diwali fun with 30% less toxic pollution

What happens to dogs

Some dogs develop a permanent sound phobia or excessive fear of loud noises if they are exposed to fireworks. While studies say that almost 50 per cent dogs are inherently susceptible to this condition, unexplained, deafening sounds like firecrackers is the most common trigger. This condition leads dogs to irrationally hide from people, urinate, defecate, drool, pant and develop separation anxiety.

For the rest of their lives, a dog could be petrified of harmless sounds like the opening of a door or the sound of the doorbell – basically making daily survival a traumatic exercise.

The ones on the street obviously have it worse – they often run helter-skelter in panic and meet accidents. Even the ones indoors are terrified. There are several cases of pet dogs, for example, running away from their homes out of panic, and never being able to find the way back to their families.

And then there are those terrible stories of outright and deliberate abuse of stray animals by inebriated or simply spiteful people.

Also read: Desi Mudhol hunting hounds to help Army sniff out IEDs, aid counterinsurgency ops

What to do on Diwali

There is an easy way to ensure that the festival of Diwali is not such a harrowing affair for animals – not bursting crackers, and actively discouraging others from doing so. It’s not an affront to one’s religious freedom and traditions. Just the way campaigning for a more humane Eid is not an affront to Islam or asking for a ban on Jallikattu is not an affront to Tamil pride.

But since empathy for animals – and choking levels of air pollution – is not reason enough to convince people against bursting crackers, here are a few things one can do to make animals around us a little less petrified on Diwali.

First, stay with your pets on Diwali. For the pet to be subjected to this trauma and not have their humans around to comfort them can be truly petrifying. However, it is important to not overdo it. Veterinarians say that if you cuddle your pets excessively, they are bound to feel even more hassled. It is better to act normal, and just be around them – so they feel things are under control. Make sure the doors of the house are shut.

In fact, it is a good idea to open up the gates of one’s societies or parking lots for stray dogs to enter and find safety. Keeping stray dogs in a safe space – where they do not run the risk of having their paws or tails burnt or coming under a vehicle – and ensuring that they are well-hydrated and fed can help them immensely.

Sensitise people – especially those who are outdoors like security guards and street vendors – to keep an eye out for those who may throw crackers at animals. It is important to know and educate others about the fact that abusing or torturing an animal in this fashion is a cognizable offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If one sees any such incident, it should instantly be reported to the police.

It is also important to sensitise children. Most children are brought up with a sense of entitlement when it comes to animals. If you see a young child chasing an animal with a cracker or throwing one at it, stop them immediately.

There are a number of NGOs – such as Friendicos, People for Animals, Jeev Ashram Trust – that work round the clock to rescue injured animals on Diwali. Keep some of their numbers handy, and report an injured animal instantly. Until someone comes to pick them up, ensure the animal has access to water and something to eat.

Also read: Here’s what you need to do if your dog looks depressed. First, don’t Google it

All this hassle can obviously be avoided if crackers are shunned en masse by people, and Diwali ceases to be a torturous affair for both humans and animals choking on poisonous fumes for days after.

And if none of this convinces Indians to stop bursting crackers, remember it affects scared cows too with their flow of oxytocin being inhibited, thereby impacting milk production.

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  1. Author should also write a similar article on how to keep goats safe during Eid without offending anyone’s religion.She just writes half a sentence for a more humane Eid to show she is balanced. But Hindus are not listening to these double standard guys anymore. In the guise of politically correct causes like animals concern or pollution, only Hindu festivals are targetted while others are let go free.

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