Why kill the dogs

By Jeremy Majaw

A poster with the quote, “We all love animals. Why do we call some pets and others dinner?” by KD Lang sits on the mantle of Anjan Kumar Das, a lover of animals and an activist vehemently protesting against the ‘Yulin Lychee and Dogmeat Festival’ in China.
For those who do not know what the festival is all about, here is a brief — it is a 10-day event wherein lychees, liquor and the meat of both dogs and cats are consumed for recreational practices.
Das (51) is one of the many people around the world trying to spread awareness on the annual festival in the hope of garnering support to shut it down. He has also put up a message on the rear windshield of his car. He’s currently a financial advisor to aspiring investers but devotes some of his precious time to fight against animal abuse.
The festival is held at Yulin in the Guangxi province of China during the warmest times of the year. It began in 2009 and since eating dog meat is a staple in Chinese culture, it is treated as a normal practice. The controversy behind the festival is that it lacks security, cleanliness and the dogs being domesticated ones are stolen from homes.

In Nagaland too, consumption of dog meat is a tradition. Around 30,000 dogs are slaughtered each year and sold in open markets. The Humane Society International India has started a petition recently to help stop the mass slaughtering. The sale of dog meat is banned in India but it is still a practised offence.
Das is part of a Facebook group named ‘Vegan Voices 4 Animals & Children’ with over 3,000 members from all around the world. He says that he has learnt a lot from his interaction with the group that mainly consists of NGO members from the Netherlands. He speaks highly of the group’s administrator, Karin Nagi, and relates how she has helped him get through this crisis plaguing the society.
“An individual having affection for his pets from childhood cannot be a bad person,” he says and gives the example of Bijoy Marak, a dog trainer, and remembers reading a recent article about him.
Besides his fight against the Yulin festival, Das also works at the local level and looks after the dogs in his neighbourhood. Despite his busy schedule, he finds time to feed the stray dogs. One can see the love between the caregiver and the animals when the dogs come running to him wagging their tails when Das comes out of his house to feed them.
When asked how the public can help, Das says, “Why not keep a packet of biscuits with you? Not for yourself but to feed a few dogs here and there on your way to work.”
Das reminiscences about his time working at Karol Bagh in Delhi where there are concrete structures built to feed stray dogs. People put in milk, biscuits and other foodstuff into them and it solves the problem of tending to the dogs.
Talking about animal lovers in the city, the activist praises the local community of Shillong for its endearing nature towards animals, especially dogs. He finds that animals are better off in Shillong than in most parts of the country due to the number of empathetic pet owners here.
Das wants to open up an orphanage for stray dogs and is currently searching for assistance to do so. He implores those who beat up dogs and ignore strays, “If you can’t love animals, then at least don’t hurt them.”

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