We have all heard the saying "Adopt, don't shop" — a heartfelt call to weave compassion into the very fabric of our lives, especially when it comes to the furry companions that become an integral part of our families. These animals, with their soft paws and trusting eyes, find their way into the core of our existence and it becomes our duty to trace the delicate path that led them to our homes that often marked by the shadows of profit-driven breeding practices.
The repercussions of such breeding practices extend beyond the immediate suffering of these animals. Health issues, both physical and psychological, plague many of these innocent beings; contributing to a perpetuating cycle of distress. Moreover, relentless breeding only serves to exacerbate the overarching crisis of pet overpopulation.
By choosing to adopt, we disrupt this harmful cycle. Adoption becomes a conscientious choice, a rejection of the exploitative practices that mar the world of commercial breeding. Each adopted pet represents a departure from supporting a system that values profit over the welfare of living beings.
In India, where 62 million dogs face homelessness, prejudices against Indie dogs perpetuate an unethical breeding industry. Despite potential biases, adopting Indie pets offers numerous benefits, including their unwavering loyalty, protective instincts, resilience, adaptability, and communicative nature. Indies, often overlooked due to breed prejudice, make for excellent companions and guardians. Choosing to adopt them not only enriches one's life with love and fulfilment but also contributes to alleviating the challenges faced by overcrowded shelters and combating unethical breeding practices. This decision represents a compassionate stance against breed prejudice and is a deliberate act of compassion, rescuing an animal from the clutches of a life devoid of love, care, and dignity.
Some adoptions happen organically, without a formal procedure or system where, instead, it's the animals choosing you as their owner and caretaker. This gradual process starts with occasional visits by a stray that eventually comes to consider the house their own, thereby 'adopting' the family in the process.
We spoke to five individuals who opened their hearts and homes to pets. The stories they shared revealed a profound transformation. Choosing to adopt a pet isn't a one-size-fits-all thing; it's about understanding the special and heartwarming stories that come with each adoption. No two stories are exactly alike and that's what makes adopting so beautiful. Every person who decides to adopt adds their own unique story to a bigger picture of kindness and empathy.
The adoption story: Rainbow was abandoned by someone on Marine Drive. I have looked after all the streeties at Marine Drive for a long time now and I meet them all every morning! Rainbow was there for about 5-6 hours every day and was an absolute sweetheart. But my Marine Drive doggies can be bullies and not too welcoming to other streeties - so they all ganged up on him and he was hurt and bleeding. He just climbed onto my scooter and refused to get off. That's how he was naturally scooter trained! So I got him home on my scooter, and that was it. He's never left my house! My boyfriend and I live together and at first, the plan was to foster him and then find him a home but obviously, that didn't happen, and we adopted him. He's the bestest, sweetest, cutest little doggie and the best thing to happen to my boyfriend and I.
On misconceptions about stray animals: I'm a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist by profession. I am extremely extremely biased towards Indies. They are my favorite breed; always have been and always will be. They are the most intelligent breeds you will come across and also the sturdiest and strongest. I am absolutely against buying and selling of dogs and breeders The horrors of the breeding industry are unimaginable. Also, when it comes to loving and wanting a dog - who cares about looks and how fluffy or fancy the breed? Indies are gorgeous and the most perfect dogs ever! Just need to make sure you do a temperament test before adopting one to make sure you get one home that is actually meant to live in a home is all!
I have always looked after street animals and have rescued them since I was a kid so I've never had misconceptions. In fact, for me, my streeties come above everyone and everything. They are my life and make my day with all their love and happy wagging tails.
The adoption story: My friend and her dad foster strays (and their own cats were initially their fosters). During the first year of the pandemic, they found two very young kittens in front of a bakery near their house and decided to take care of them and put them up for adoption. She sent pictures and videos of the kittens on our group chat and I felt an attachment towards them over time. I showed them to my mom as well who initially wasn't too into the idea of having a pet. When my friend was making fliers to put them up for adoption, I ran it by my mom just to see what she'd say, and to my surprise, she said we could adopt one of them! We chose to adopt the boy (who was then called Chip), and his sister, Dip, was adopted by a friend of a friend. A week later, he was home and christened Olive. He's been with us for almost four years now, and he and my mom are inseparable.
On misconceptions about stray animals: Neither my family nor I had really thought about adopting a pet before, and although I did want a dog when I was a child, my requests were declined, so I had given up. Regardless, ever since I learned what breeding was, I strongly condemned it and with so many animals left at shelters, definitely think people should adopt pets instead of buying them. Many of my friends work with animal rights NGOs and foster animals in need, so I've always been in an environment that encourages this sentiment. When it came to adopting Olive, it was really about knowing that this was a cat in need of a home. I find it very weird that people are particular about having pets of a certain breed.
I used to be quite scared of strays when I was younger, especially stray cats because I'd been told that they'd scratch my face off. Since adopting Olive, I've learned a lot about why stray cats are temperamental and understood that a lot of their behavior is rooted in how they're treated by people. It's really horrible to see people be mean to strays just for 'fun', especially when I think of it in terms of the life that Olive would have had had he not been adopted. It's hard existing as a stray as it is since you have to fend for yourself entirely, so some kindness goes a long way.
The adoption story: I didn't adopt my cats, but their great-grandmother just happened to stroll past our house, and I started giving her food and milk every time she'd visit. I live in a really small town, and we don't have adoption agencies. Most people here just buy pets from breeders or domesticate a stray.I didn't plan on getting a cat. In fact, I had tried to adopt one from a foster parent in Pune and failed miserably, so I didn't think I was a cat person. Only when this cat started visiting me did I slowly warm up to the idea of having one around. I also didn't think she'd stay, but over time she got comfortable and gave birth to kittens here. All my cats are descendants of her.
On misconceptions about stray animals: There is a trend of choosing a 'prettier' breed when it comes to choosing a pet, but I think a connection or friendship that happens organically shifts people's perspectives on that matter. I used to think all street cats looked the same, but I've learned to distinguish each one of mine over time and love their different personalities. I like that even if they're strays, they have a place with me where they can be safe.
The adoption story: We never actually went through a shelter or a process per se. Rather than us adopting them, you could say we were adopted by all the animals we have. We have three dogs and three cats in the house and about five dogs around the grounds that we live on, and they all found their way to us by chance. People are a little too invested in the shelter route when finding a pet is often as easy as walking down the street. There are so many strays in need of a good, loving home or even someone to feed them every day. You don’t have to bring a dog home to adopt them. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure your neighborhood strays have one good meal every day."
On misconceptions about stray animals: Breeders tend to be horrific places for animals. While some actually care for their puppies, they’re often dark, cramped, and incredibly unsanitary. Inbreeding is also very common to keep the dogs’ lineage ‘pure’. It’s essentially animal-based eugenics, and I don’t think I’d lose much sleep if breeders were to be outlawed entirely.
Every single one of our pets is a mix, and we’ve never bought or sold an animal in our lives. It’s crazy to think that people spend that much money on a dog or a cat when there are so many strays that need homes. Inbreeding causes a number of genetic health issues in purebreds. Mixed-breeds are almost always smarter, healthier, and less expensive to take care of in the long run.
My entire family is animal crazy. My grandma had seven dogs in the house, and my mum’s pretty much following in her footsteps in that regard. Street animals have a right to live and be loved in the same manner that those that have homes and families. A little care and compassion goes a long way. Every animal we have was or could’ve very easily been a stray. With just a little bit of love, they immediately become an inextricable part of your life. They bring all of us so much joy, even if we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we’d like. They have almost human personalities, and each one of them brings a different sort of light into our lives.
We’re always going to be an indie-mixed animal family.
The adoption story: The minute I thought of getting a pet, I knew adopting was the way to go! One of my family friends knew of a shelter that was close to their house (they had visited it multiple times before), and I immediately visited that place to find my perfect pet companion!"
On misconceptions about stray animals: Breeding is an unethical process, and we all know it. But for some reason, people keep resorting to buying dogs from breeders. Not only are they more expensive, but they are also not suited to Indian weather conditions, so they have to be maintained more - either when it comes to shedding hair, feeding specific food items, or having the right temperature in the environment for the dog. When you adopt an indie breed dog, all of these hassles are non-existent - with the added benefit of you providing a home for the dog!
People say street dogs aren't as adorable or affectionate, but that is a very big misconception. Street dogs can show you as much love, if not more than bred dogs, and they are so fun to play with and entertain. I do not regret my decision of getting an indie breed dog, and I would definitely recommend it to everyone who wants a dog!
My adoption story:
In my family's case, our journey into pet ownership began with our lovely little boy, Benji. We never actively sought out an adoption agency; rather, Benji serendipitously came into our lives. Another family we knew had initially bought Benji, a Shih Tzu, but due to challenges in managing his energetic behaviour and overall care and maintenance, they decided to find him a new home. Fortunately, word spread quickly, and we learned about Benji's situation.
Given that most members of my family are passionate dog lovers, convincing them to welcome Benji into our home was an easy task. He has quickly become the unanimous favourite and a cherished member of our little family.
Engaging in conversations with pet owners has revealed one common thread — the profound shift from before adopting to after. Providing a loving haven to a once-stray/abandoned animal becomes a fulfilling journey, a gateway to understanding the resilience, loyalty, and boundless joy these creatures bring into our lives. It is a mutual journey of growth and companionship, where the simple act of adoption reshapes not only the lives of the pets but also those of the individuals who open their hearts and homes.
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