We had a serious situation within our society where the residents had almost reached a stage to pay off professional dog catchers, to get a litter of 5 puppies relocated elsewhere (as they say, or rid them off, as they mean). Before this, we have gotten adopted over 30 puppies born within our society premises itself.

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But this time the situation went beyond our control because of multiple reasons cited as below:

1. The mother dog was new to society premises and strayed in from near by construction site. She laid her litter behind the society gym area. Within a couple of days, naturally, she turned very protective of her puppies and used to bark aggressively at any passerby. And this was a very frequently visited area by many residents. It made the situation slightly difficult.

2. Someone within the society instructed the security guards to shoo away the mother dog and pups at their next sight. As a result every night the mother dog was found at a new place in the society. It became difficult to locate them and predict their whereabouts.

3. The scare and fear within the minds of some people, made them call a PMC van. The dog catchers tried catching the mother dog and its pups, but at their every attempt all 8 of them used to run in 8 different directions. Those attempts went futile but the mother dog and the puppies as a result had developed a disliking towards human beings and refused to even being fed.

4. Soon after, the entire dog family had settled in the fountain area which anyway was risky given the open electrical wiring. We were also growing impatient because we were trying to befriend the mother dog with food, but she never responded.

5. We continued the attempts to feed the mother and her pups, but were still not able to hold them or touch them. They ran at the very instinct of being petted. We did not wish to use any unnatural means to catch these dogs. They were traumatized enough already.

Several days later as our attempts began to yield results, we were able to carry around the mother dog. She had stopped lactating and we observed that she was hunting for food for her pups. The pups were about 2 months old and yet scared of presence of any human around them. We fed the pups as well, but as soon as we went to hold them, they would slip away.

Deemed fit, we took the mother dog to Blue Cross, Mundhwa. She was successfully operated for birth control. We visited her every day. And on the fourth day she died of a snake bite. We were heart broken and instantly felt responsible for the pups still averse to human touch.

By now, the residents were already up in arms and had lodged several complaints against us personally about dog feeding, open defecation in society common areas etc. They received several “suggestions” which said “close all exits” – “we want a dog free society”. It was almost certain that someone would have harmed these puppies on slightest provocation. It had become extremely difficult to contain the situation and that is when ALERT, Pune stepped in. Mrs Meher Mathrani personally inspected the case and met the society management committee to make them understand that our acts are noble and ultimately will help the society and its residents. The law was also on our side and the thought of moving the puppies out of the society, be relocated, or be harmed in any manner, was crushed. Her authority and support brought about the much needed change in perspective and we were able to devise a plan.

We had a very clear idea in mind. The pups were attracted to food. We were able to get them into a confined area, but not catch them. We decided to build a cage big enough for five 3 month old pups. About 9 ft x 9ft. A space which would be private, dry, airy, roomy, comfortable for them to stay and live in. We were to foster them all at once, in one area. It wasn’t impossible at all. We knew what were subscribing for. We were confident that we would get them into good loving homes if we were able to hold them and get them used to human touch.

We started with our early morning routine. And got them [tricked] into the cage with kibbles. That part was easy. As soon as we closed the door, we sat with them inside the cage and let them realize that they are going nowhere, but our arms. We sat there for 4 hours until we made sure the pups calmed down, stopped crying and let us pet them slowly. Yet, it just took 4 hours for them to settle down on their mats, drinking the water from the bowl, getting used to the space. Given their history 4 hours seemed so less. One of our volunteers Tanya Almeida, a natural with dog training, was able to make them learn to walk on the leash and potty train them on the newspaper. 4 times a day, we would come and supervise them. Change the newspapers, clear their litter, take them out for a walk, get their daily dose of the exercise, and tuck them back to sleep. Starting 7 in the morning to 10 in the night, they were looked after very well. ALERT also arranged for them to be vaccinated.

The entire project expenses were self funded. But the management committee was open enough to lend the space for the cage, some water and a light connection. Help poured in all forms from other dog lovers in the society. Some gave food, some gave utensils, old mats, old clothes, toys, newspapers. We had the much needed support and blessings. The routine didn’t feel difficult at all, and now we proudly say that it was a great success. Five dogs getting into homes is probably 30 dogs less on the streets, every year. In short, there is always a workable solution that suits right to both animal lovers and general public.

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Update 11th July 2015

Today is the 10th day of this project and we are happy to announce that all 5 of them have been adopted into very loving homes. Just 2 days on, the pups have settled down and we have already received smiles from their families. This litter has been the most bright, intelligent and responsive of them all. God bless their parents, and may they have a very long healthy and a happy life!

The Cage Project