Every other day, videos and instances of animal cruelty surface online and leave us shocked. Gruesome footages from the recent past have captured how dogs were made a prey of violence and brutality. From dogs being tied to a moving vehicle and dragged over the street to them getting raped by humans, incidents of animal cruelty seem to have increased and raised a concern towards these creatures and their well-being in society.
Reflecting on the several cases of attacks on both stray and pet dogs, we tried to figure out the reason behind people involved in acts of harassing animals and understand what the animal has to go through later.
Dr. Mayur Dangar, General Manager, The Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals in Parel, mentioned that the health facility sees many cases of brutality, ranging from being hit by sticks to being crushed under vehicles. "Accidents are the most common instance of dogs being brought to the hospital. However, in recent days, the cases of dog rapes (by human) are seeing a rise across the country," says the doctor.
Further addressing on animal cruelty and the trauma that the dogs go through, Dr Dangar points out how he and his team have treated dogs attacked by acid, burn injuries during Diwali festivities, and sometimes even tied with crackers. After knowing what he has witnessed and how he treated many affected dogs, we asked him about the cases of people tying the animal to their vehicle and forcing it to run, experiencing pain, etc.
Take on viral videos
Why are people indulging in such crimes towards the voiceless? We asked Nilesh Bhanage, animal activist and founder PAWS, whether it was only for creating mere reels to go viral on the internet, such like an Instagram influencer kicked a doggo for fun during her video shoot only to later apologise after triggering netizens, or many 'instant karma' footages that recorded how people teased and abused camels and donkeys to get replied the same way.
Bhanage opines that two factors affect the scenario, staying to the social media trend that in a way promotes hurting animals, and the laws which need upgrade and strictness. "Publicity is one of the reasons why people go to the extent of harming animals. Either they create reels themselves or the needful is done by passerby, making them go viral. People are addicted to social media and are seeking to gain attention by creating trendy videos, even if it demands causing pain to the animals," the animal lover addresses the concern.
Adding to this, Dr Dangar says, "The recent viral videos of dogs being tied to vehicles and made to cope up with its speed is upsetting. The victim animal goes through physical injuries along with shock and stress caused during the cruel incident. In most cases of animal cruelty, the dogs fight to survive and show progress to the provided medical care. Once they do fine, stray dogs are sent back to their respective locations and breeds see adoption."
Understanding the psyche of accused involved in animal cruelty
Why are people causing pain to the animals? There's actually a psychological condition that can potentially describe the several videos of animal cruelty going viral on social media -- The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome or Zoosadism.
Clinical Psychologist Shinjini Deb points out that indulging in cruelty isn't normal and says, "It is the lack of empathy that pushes one to pass on pain to others without remorse of it. Cruelty is deemed abnormal because as humans having empathy is crucial, although it could be in varying intensity."
"Anti-socials have been seen to biologically not have or possess the area in the brain which is responsible for empathy and need for socialization. The individual's involved in animal cruelty probably will show the same kind of findings if researched on," adds the psychologist.
"It's just a dog" mentality
Animal lovers and activists believe that the mindset is to blame. Are we forgetting that animals too breathe and live as we humans do? And thus, noting that they also feel pain similar to a person being hit, thrashed, or dragged forcibly by a moving vehicle.
"We are living in a society that takes the lives of the stray animals for granted. The mentality of people, especially those involving in such crimes, is "It's just a dog;" it needs change. Lack of awareness about animal welfare, laws protecting it and punishing any unlikely act is a concern. People must be made aware of repercussions and understand that they too undergo pain and trauma like any other living being, even humans for that matter," says founder of Bombay Animal Rights, Vijay Mohanani.
Laws need to be stern and updated to ensure animal welfare
In January, the Bombay High Court noted that although animal lovers treat their pet as a child or as a family member, basic biology tells us that they are not human beings and hence, a person cannot be booked under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC, for acts endangering human life, or likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. The BAR founder condemned this judgement that quashed an FIR registered against an engineering student who killed a stray dog while riding his bike.
Vijay affirms to state: "Dogs aren’t human beings. But we must not forget that their lives matter too."
Bhanage brings to notice that Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 needs an upgrade with time in order to curb criminal behavior and make people fear its consequences. "We are in 2023, but the law system is stuck way behind in matter of animal welfare and justice. Animal activist have repeatedly drafted and urged the government in upgradation of the relevant law, but we stay disappointed and delayed."
Education can bring change
Apart from the laws that can ensure animal safety, Bhanage strongly believes that education can bring change. "A solution to this can come in the form of educating the young generation and adding a lesson on coexistence and compassion in school curriculum. When kids are taught in early age that they must be friendly towards animals and share a mutual bond of care, they'll learn to coexist. We hope this shall help."