By Taniya Dutta
This is the heartwarming moment 26 stray dogs, who were abducted and were smuggled for consumption, were rescued from the clutches of suspected meat traders in northeast India.
The dogs were rescued from highway near Jowai in Meghalaya when they were being taken into a small car, mouth shut with tapes and double tied with ropes and wires in gunny bags, to neighbouring states of Mizoram and Nagaland.
Aged between three months and eight years, the poor mutts were severely dehydrated, terrified and disoriented when rescued.
They were given food, water and medicines before transported to centre of Just Be Friendly, an NGO 99 miles away from the spot.
“They are doing well but are severely traumatised. We are doing every bit to comfort them.
“We have been giving them oral hydration and drips as required. They are safe now and started eating and are taking medicines,” said Dr Shashanka Dutta, veterinarian and founder of Just Be Friendly.
It all started Monday night around 10 pm when an animal lover Kasturi Das spotted the three dogs suspiciously stacked in a car and posted their pictures on social media.
As soon as the pictures went viral, other activists alerted local cops who quickly sprung into action and after interrogating the driver, were shocked to find not three but 26 dogs in three different warehouses as they were supposed to be transported to the states known for eating dog meat.
Sub-Inspector Kiran Lyngdoh, who cracked the case, said: ” I was sent the picture of the driver and the car by my senior.
“While we got hold of the driver with the help of the number plate of the car, at first we could not find anything suspicious in it but after stern interrogation, the driver opened up.
“He said three women had hired his cab for £17 and gave him £5 for each round and he had no clue what was in the bags.
“He took us to three different locations. Once we reached, we were aghast to see at least 23 dogs were hold up in ridiculously painful manner.
“We nabbed three women and the driver immediately. Unfortunately, it is a bailable offence and we are working with lawyers to see how we can proceed in the case.”
The sight of warehouse was so horrific that it took several hours for police and animal activists to rescue the dogs.
“It was a depressing sight.
“In my decade old career as an animal rights activist, I had never seen such a horrific sight.
“The dogs were brutally packed in gunny bags and tied with ropes so tightly that it took me at least 20 minutes to cut each one of them off. But by the time I reached the fifth dog, I had given up because I was worried for the health of other dogs.
“The dogs were scared and howling and whining. The look of fear in their eyes was devastating.
“It took me some time to comfort them. Their limbs were tied and mouth was shut so they cannot bark. The movement was restricted and they sat helpless.
“After comforting and feeding them food and water, we transferred the dogs to NGOs so they can be given proper care,” said the local animal rights activist, who wished to stay anonymous for safety concerns.
Seven of the 26 dogs were adopted locally and rest have been put up for adoption by JBF.
“The dogs are recovering fast. They are very docile and seemed to be domesticated as they are well behaved. In many parts of northeast, dogs are given food by local shopkeepers. It seems they were kidnapped from market areas.
“We do not run a shelter but since it was an emergency we had to bring them here to save them.
“Our place is small for large pack of dogs. We hope that people will come forward to adopt these animals and give them a better life,” said Dr Shashanka, who runs the centre to provide only medical help to the dogs.
The consumption of dog meat is illegal in India but is flouted in Mizoram and Nagaland where hundreds of dogs are killed brutally for meat trade as some consider dog meat have high nutritional and medicinal value.
Many dogs are put alive in boiling water at markets so their skin and fur comes off and their meat is sold for £2 per kilogram.
It is believed that one cannot find stray dogs in the states as most of the families keep them as pets and consume them later, mostly when they turn old.
While it is difficult to challenge eating habits, animal rights activists like Dr Shashanka believes that the mindset of the people needs to be changed gradually.
“We cannot do much within these states but on our part we are trying to stop the supply of dogs from other parts to these states.
“We understand that social awareness can help change the mindset of the people but that is a long process. We are thinking of bringing change in the policy and make dog meat consumption illegal so no one can kill the animals for meat,” he added.