If you were horrified by the report of the two medical students who flung a dog from the terrace of a five-storied building and filmed the grisly act, here's another story that is equally -- if not more -- shocking, since many of us may be unwitting participants, says Supriya Bose.
Warning: The photographs used in this feature may be disturbing.
Pet shops are cruel. Unregulated, unscrupulous animal breeding is cruel. There are no two ways about this.
Maybe there are loud voices of dissent, but, based on the years of suffering, abandonment, disease, pain, heartbreak and torture that we have witnessed, we will hold our ground. Furthermore, we will back up our hard-hitting affirmations with equally unforgiving facts.
In India, there are no laws in place that regulate any form of animal breeding. We will specifically refer to companion animal breeding here.
Pet shops have and are springing up faster than mushrooms on a warm, moist forest floor. Animals are sold like any other inanimate merchandise.
People of all ages, especially the younger generation, at loose ends during vacations and buy puppies, kittens, birds and fish, without stopping for a moment to think how that little soul came to be held captive within a cold, uncomfortable, dirty, smelly cage.
What will become of this little one once school or college reopens? Who will be responsible for the daily care of this pet?
Just like human infants, animal infants have equally loving and caring mothers. Mothers, who want their babies to stay with them for some length of time so that they can nurture, protect, groom and feed them with their own milk.
But this is not permitted.
It is business as usual and, for a good cash turnover, there has to be a steady supply of cute, little fur balls to populate the baskets and cages that line the walls and floors of pet shops.
To ensure this, we have a growing number of heartless breeders who, without actually having to go out and work, can rake in an impressive five to six figure 'salary' by keeping the female animals in their menagerie constantly pregnant.
To save on space (many breeders in cities live in chawls or one-room tenements) and increase output, these puppy and kitten factories are held captive in cages with hardly any room to move around.
Every time they come into heat, they are forcibly mated and, soon after the litter is born, off the little ones go to the pet shops where passersby poke a finger into the cage with a 'Oh cho chweet' and either move on or stop to bargain to get the best price.
When the worn-out, tired, overused moms cannot reproduce anymore or begin to show signs of illness or disease, out they go, tossed into some garbage heap or just left to wander about the streets until the irreversible hand of death steps in and stills the agony. What a neat equation.
Some people truly believe they are doing a good deed by buying from a pet shop. Unfortunately, they couldn't be further from the truth.
By supporting pet shops, you are supporting this cruel pet trade -- whether you know it or not.
Unregulated breeding leads to unhealthy offspring, many times stricken by severe and debilitating genetic diseases which are not evident in infancy.
Pet shop 'merchandise' does not come with any lineage history or trustworthy medical records.
Walk into any animal hospital or shelter, talk with any animal welfare professional and you will be shocked to learn how many thoroughbred animals are abandoned every day, for reasons that border on the insane.
Unless the buying stops, the production will continue.
This merciless trade will thrive, unabated and unrelenting.
These mute animals will continue to suffer in silence, being punished for no fault of theirs.
We cannot talk of being human and stand by mutely, doing nothing.
Photographs: Kind Courtesy Supriya Bose
Supriya Bose can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org