Once a favourite with dog lovers thanks to the Vodafone commercial that made them a household name, pugs now suffer immensely as they are abandoned by owners who can’t afford their long medical bills.
The cute ‘punch-faced’ and ‘box-sized’ dog – which once cost something between Rs30,000 and Rs40,000 – is now found deserted just about anywhere, from the doorsteps of shelter homes to side streets and in cardboard boxes, say rescuers.
Abhinav Srihan, who runs an NGO called Fauna Police in south Delhi’s Chhattarpur, says, “I have found four such pugs in the past 10 days. One was left anonymously with us, for which I actually thank the owner’s kindness. The others were found in different parts of north and south Delhi in very bad conditions.”
“One had so much dust on him with open wounds that it looked like a stone. The others were suffering from various ailments such as bleeding eyes, asthma and maggot infection,” he said.
HISTORY OF PUGS
As per the history of various dog breeds, pugs originated in China, dating back to the Han dynasty. Pugs are one of the three types of short-nosed dogs – the Lion dog, the Pekingese and the Lo-sze (the ancient pug) – that are known to have been bred by the Chinese.
They were prized by the Emperors of China and lived in luxurious accommodations, sometimes even being guarded by soldiers.
But due to their fetish to have absolutely ‘flat-faced’ pugs and make them as small as possible, they were bred in unscientific ways.ON THE FACE
“As a result, the pug, as it exists now, has various inherent health problems,” said Dr T R Sharma, who runs a veterinary hospital called PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) in Vasant Kunj.
“No dog is supposed to have such a small nose. It is unnatural. But due to such breeding, they can hardly breathe with constricted airways.”
Several airlines have even either banned their transport in cargo due to high temperatures and low oxygen, or enacted seasonal restrictions.
“With so many folds on their tiny body, especially around the mouth and neck, they develop fungal infections very easily. Their large protruding eyes are susceptible to scratches and ulcers. Besides, they have a weak circulatory system and heart,” said Sharma.
Sharma finds one abandoned pug almost every month. “Suffering medically in such serious condition, nobody even adopts them,” he said. However, the problem is not just to the historically wrong breeding of pugs, which has made them genetically weak. They are also inbred prolifically to obtain cheap and numerous pug litter that can be sold to pug enthusiasts for a pittance.
Karuna Yadav, a dog lover from Shahdra in east Delhi, says, “I remember when I first fell in love with a pug after seeing it on TV many years back as a child, my father tried to get me one. It cost Rs40,000 then. But in 2015, when my brother decided to gift me one, it was handed over to him by a former owner.”
“I know it for a fact that now they are bred even in gallimohallas and sold for Rs7,000-10,000,” she said.
Srihan added, “They are bred even in jhuggis of Trilokpuri and Madangir. With absolutely no implementation of dog-breeding guidelines, people do whatever they want. All they are concerned about is money, not the health of the pug.”
Karuna said she has three pugs now, two female and one male. “I found them in utterly poor conditions, left to die. But my first pet was a pug, so I couldn’t see them like that.”
Sharma cautioned, “All those planning to buy pugs must take care where they purchase them from. If they are inbred heavily and are already in poor health conditions, please refrain. Unfortunately, like other breeds, pugs cannot live alone on the roads for even a week.”