I was recently very hurt, surprised and shocked, when I recently got ear-marked for dog abuse – all for the crime of owning a Siberian husky. At Pets Stepin where on occasions I’ve put up my husky for boarding – I’ve seen other huskies happy and playful and the “husky owners” treated with respect not contempt.
Now is it a crime to own a husky? Actually it is a crime to own any pedigree dog or mongrel – if one does not have the time, money or resources for the dog. Lately it has become a trend to claim “dog saintly-ness” because of the ownership of street dogs, while lambasting and rail-roading pedigree dog owners for their “snobishness”, “stupidity,” “callousness”, “cruelty,” “insensitivity” and general lack of research about “pedigree dog needs.”
Individual attacks on husky owners will not solve the problem of Siberian huskies being bred in the tropics. Or for that matter solve the problem of irresponsible breeding of any other breed. Do you think it is responsible to breed GSDs with super-sloping hind legs so that they cease to be the active working dogs, but become show-prize winners for extreme angulation? Do you think it is ethical to breed bulldogs and pugs so that they carry over their plethora of health problems to the next generation? Or do you think it is necessary to over-breed Golden Retrievers to the point where breeders in Bangalore are finding it difficult to locate homes for their 6 month-plus puppies?
What about eco-friendly breeds? I think everyone will agree that we need to promote the breeding of our native dogs. As much as the Rajapalayam, Chippiparai, Kombai and Kanni are great dogs and ideally suited to the climate of most cities in India – there is the question – Are you the right owner for a hound? Most sight-hounds are one-man dogs, and I’ve known a Rajapalayam to pine away and die when its owner left it for two weeks to the U.S. Also without proper socialization and when under-exercised, Rajapalayams like Dobermanns can turn vicious.
Now, I think it would be near impossible to go up to each prospective husky owner and try and dissuade them from buying the breed. But what is possible is a social and political movement seeking to ban the breeding of huskies and other high-risk, high-maintenance dogs.
More serious than the husky (a gregarious, generous, child-loving soul) is the problem of breeding dogs that can turn vicious without an experienced handler. Dogs like the pit-bull terrior, Presa Canario, Neopolitan Mastiff, American bulldogs have actually killed or fatally injured people leading to their own deaths and outright bans in several countries.
As individuals we can’t do anything about irresponsible breeding or the puppy mill. But the Kennel Club of India and the many animal welfare groups have the political clout and influence to get things done in the right direction.
In India you cannot have a tiger in your bedroom like in the U.S. or organise hunting parties to shoot your pet big cats. We have a strong Wildlife Protection Act – that does not spare even celebrities. In the same vein, we can also try really hard to get a ban on the import and breeding of foreign dog breeds that might suffer in India!
Otherwise it is very difficult to resist the appeal of a Siberian husky. They are the most handsomest creatures in the dog kingdom. They also have a heart of gold and are extremely good with babies and children. They are friendly, playful and highly-intelligent on top of which they are too beautiful for their own good.
Shaming, name-calling, criticizing people won’t keep people away from huskies anymore than you can keep bees away from a honey pot. We need to a conscious movement towards more responsible breeding and adopting of all dogs