• animal cruelty india

This is India! 35

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • Werkenntwen was mentioned on the Top 10 Journey Blogs to Follow in 2015 by The Broke Backpacker!
  • I picked up a freelance gig writing an article each month for Bindi and Jeans. Here’s the first one: Packing List for a Beach Vacation with some added tips on Goa.

Now your story,

I love dogs… a lot. One of the hardest things about living in India is seeing stray dogs on the road. I’ve had two dogs since I lived here and both have died from terrible illnesses. I have a third one now ( a beach dog from Kochi) and a kitten. I have seen so many terrible things in Goa- whether it’s a car hitting a dog and driving away, or injured dogs on the side of the road, limping down the street, or with serious traumas.

Luckily in Assagao and the rest of North Goa, you can call International Animal Rescue to come get any dog that is hurt. A lot of people don’t want to call because then you have to stay with the animal until they come, and it seems people sadly don’t want to bother.

I know you’re thinking that’s unrealistic, but I see at least 3 injured dogs a week and cannot even imagine how many strays there are. In Panjim, the WAGS NGO told me that they neutered 25,000 strays over monsoon in North Goa, and I could be wrong but I think their goal was 75,000.

FYI get ready for cute doggie photos from my travels!

Chikmagalur Homestay & Trekking the Highest Peak in Karnataka

adventures in dandeli

Aihole and Pattadakal

My village is pretty cozy and all the dogs have owners who feed them. Three called whitey, brownie, and blackie (renamed by Ben: Snowy, Elvis, and Question Mark) come in the house and lay in the A/C while my kitten glares at them. I would let any dog in our house because I’m weird like that.

So while in Gokarna at a guest house, when a stray came running to my room when I was opening the door, I figured why not let him in? As I was unlocking the door, I looked down and saw it…. a hole full of maggots in his head. It was about 3 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep, which was massive on this dog.

My instinct was to not let him in, in the off chance he had some injury that would affect his brain and make him bite me (I was mid way through my month of rabies shots from Huckleberry’s death). I tried to shut the door, but he pushed through.

He plopped down in the corner and just looked at me with sad hurt eyes.

I let him cool down under the fan and offered him water. He didn’t drink it… which I know from Huck’s rabies that one symptom is phobia of water. I wanted to sleep and didn’t feel okay sleeping with him locked in the room, so tried to get him to leave.

He was so sad, and wouldn’t get up. I had to lock my door so I didn’t get robbed but couldn’t imagine sleeping with the dog in the room in case it was rabid, so I had no choice but to go to the reception and ask them to tell the dog to get out. I was afraid to touch him and push him out. I made them promise that they wouldn’t hit the dog and that they’d offer it some food.

The second they got to the room the dog was terrified and ran away. In Karnataka I didn’t see many NGO’s helping the animals. I thought later that dog may have the head injury from the guesthouse employees hitting him- which sounds horrible but is actually a real possibility.

Talakad, Shivanasamudra animal cruelty india

Somanathapura keshava temple

Soliga Tribe of BR Hills

Dhyan's Den kodova homestay coorg

I’m a huge fan of dogs and actually when we first got Shanti I put a post on Facebook saying “look at what Ben brought home from the beach, tell him to take it back!” which was half joke, half serious because we’ve had so many strays around and two have died. People commented how mean I was blah blah – and all I can say is get a life! If you haven’t been to India you can’t imagine the dog situation here and really to tell me I don’t care about them is preposterous.

bathing elephants in india

Animal Cruelty India

Sadly, I see kids in India hit and beat dogs. I see grown men kick them. People hit them on their scooters and ride off cursing the dog for being in their way. There are PSA commercials sometimes and articles online about how children need to learn not to be cruel to animals.

Honestly, in my mind a child who hurts an animal (unless it’s hunting in order to eat and feed your family) is on his or her way to being a sociopath. It’s just unimaginable to me to think of kicking a dog!

I hope that dog got help, but I had no Wi-Fi to look up who to call and I never saw the dog again.

Anyone else notice this in India or other countries (the cruelty to animals)? I can understand not having the means to feed and care for a dog, but hurting one is on another level. Am I imagining it or have I just seen the worst moments? I don’t think so. I have seen far too many instances to think it’s a coincidence, and rather I think it’s a cultural thing here. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

This is India!

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feature image: source


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Anja January 30, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Cultural, you have seen the men (Mostly Men ), women, children sleep on the street? Beggers get pushed away when begging; why would dogs get threated well when people are not treated well at all? I’ve also seen and been attacked by stray dogs so I understand why people would treat dogs badly. ( Out of fear… )

    • Rachel Jones January 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      As I said, I realize if they can’t take care of themselves they can’t take care of a stray.

      I’m talking about the abuse that happens , like a child kicking an innocent puppy. There’s really no excuse except perhaps lack of education?

  2. venus john January 30, 2015 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    nice post..thanks forbeing honest about the dog with the maggot infected wound..
    I wish there was an international animal rescue centre here.. I found my stray dog on the side of the orad with a broken limb,as he had been hit by a car..he was about 3 months old..and had been injured since about 10 days and used to cry at night..

    I did not know any place to call up for help,and even now,i probably wouldn’t as bspca and other ngo’s are full and their rexources are stretched..and the dog may not be well looked after..
    there is a stray female dog near my house,with 4 pups..and she needs to be neutered..i won’t be able to take her to the ngo ahimsa in malad ,where she would probably be neutered for free. or a small fee…as I don’t have a vehicle to take her there and bring her back..
    there is a government run sterilization centre near my place but hey would charge rs.500 they said for use of thir van to take the dog to the centre and bring it back..it would also cost me some money for post operative care..and I am unemployed and can’t really afford it..but I need to get it done..
    now,this is not a call for donation,just letting you know my experience with stray dogs and the situation on the ground here..

    • venus john January 30, 2015 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      I mean in Mumbai..in india..

    • Rachel Jones January 31, 2015 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing. It can be difficult to get all the animals care which is the saddest part. Even the NGO’s are too full and I know even the puppies picked up in Mapusa by NGO’s are put down when they are too full :(

  3. Rebekah January 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I hear you. I have such a hard time with people being cruel to animals. I understand other cultures don’t view them as pets or love animals the way western countries do but its really hard to see people be deliberately cruel to animals.

    • Rachel Jones January 31, 2015 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      Yes.. that’s the weird part though. Why hurt innocent animal? Maybe a big mean dog trying to attack- but a small dog minding it’s own business. I’ve seen some really mean things. Maybe it’s not just India I mean I haven’t been everywhere but certainly see it here :(

  4. Emily January 31, 2015 at 1:59 am - Reply

    In our travels last year I think India was definitely the place where we witnessed the most animal cruelty. It was shocking after recently being in Turkey where strays, especially cats, were treated well and you would come across little piles of kibble everywhere. In South America there are TONS of strays and they too seem to be well cared for.

    • Rachel Jones January 31, 2015 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      That’s interesting – how cool that they’re treated so well in Turkey. In India, most locals who do love dogs don’t want to give them kibble they think it makes them crazy or aggressive and cook them chicken and rice instead

  5. Lorianne February 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    I met a friend of yours at the Cleveland Clinic when I was there for an Exec Physical. I’m soon to take another business trip to India, so in chatting mid-stress test, she told me about your blog. Love it!

    I fell I love with India on my first trip – Mumbai & Jaipur – however, I was horribly disturbed by the stray dog population and the animal cruelty in general. I asked a lot of questions to try to understand the how and why as it seemed so incredibly WRONG. I admit I still can’t wrap my head around it, but will share what was perhaps the best explanation (rationalization?) offered. “You see,” said a gentleman who is now my friend, “you have the same problem in the US. Your solution is to euthanize. Here, we let the animals live. They have food and water and live in packs. They know how to navigate the traffic and the people. They have a chance in India.”

    Thanks for sharing. There HAS to be a solution, in India and in the US. Spreading the word is part of the solution.

    • Rachel Jones February 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Oh who was it? Such a small world! That’s such an interesting way to look at the dog population and is probably true. The newer NGo’s in Goa are starting euthanize when there are too many dogs :(

  6. Harrow Minicab February 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    lovely person you are..god bless you ,thanks for sharing your experience with your loved one.

  7. RADEN February 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel, 15 million people are bitten by dogs in India every year. Is it any wonder they are scared of strays and try to stone them and drive them away? Having said that, I have been to Goa and seen animals, including cows, being beaten with a stick by the men there, something which I haven’t seen elsewhere in India, so you may have a point there.

    • Rachel Jones February 5, 2015 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Perhaps that’s true. I’m no stranger to mean strays – get scared a bit when walking by own dog through very territorial places, and my boyfriend was bit down in Kovalam. For the most part, if you don’t bother them they don’t bother you – especially puppies which I have seen be hurt. You’re right Goa could be different. Cows here aren’t looked at the same as north goa and are even used in betting / cow fights.

  8. Pravin May 24, 2016 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Hi, this problem could not definitely be limited to India, could be any place with such a huge stray population, be it dogs, cats, donkeys, camels, cattle, any animal. But have you not seen most people & vehicles negotiate around them all the time. Since you began your Indian journey from jaipur you’d know. Even the meanest beasts like monkeys are not do ill treated despite so many accidents inflicted by them
    I live in Calcutta & have lived in jaipur & South India (Tiruppur, if you know about it) & hv not come across random cruelty against animals as much. Here in Calcutta people actually prepare separate meals at their homes & feed the strays on the roads. There, actually, are some areas where you’ll find dogs & cats gathering at a particular time of day & night. Then you’ll see someone appearing with a container full & feed these animals. There’s a cancer inflicted dog at my new shop, stray & he’s been taken full cate of including full, proper treatment by the next door shop owner for a long time.
    I’m not denying one moment that cruelty doesn’t happen, only that there’s more care than cruelty since what hits us moat is the negatives & the good mostly doesn’t show up so evident

    • Rachel Jones May 24, 2016 at 1:18 am - Reply

      Hi, yes it could be a problem in many others places, I only write about what I see. In Goa, they poison dogs 8 or 10 at a time (puppies and old ones) to get rid of them. In Kerala, they go out and beat them to death in Varkala at night… you barely see a dog in Kerala now .. it’s very sad.

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