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October 21, 2017

Festival of firecrackers: A nightmare for birds, dogs


New Delhi, Oct 21: Jango, a two-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever, hid beneath a bed with paws on his ears, to escape the deafening sound of crackers this Diwali night.

His owner, Punit Narula, a resident of Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi, says his immediate neighbour blows up a "huge quantity of high-decibel fireworks" every Diwali, making lives of dogs miserable.

"They (dogs) have a highly pronounced auditory sense and they pick up noise from smallest of crackers blowing up in the neighbourhood. Big ones just drive these poor animals crazy," he said.

While Jango had the comfort of the Narulas' home on the third floor of a building, the stray canines in the area were living through a nightmare as revellers blew crackers in the streets, from late evening to close to midnight.

"Jerry (a stray sheltered by the Narulas) sleeps in our compound every night. On Diwali, he had gone into a hiding. He must have tucked himself beneath a car or something or nearby Gurudwara seeking quietness," Narula said.

Tandrali Kuli of Frendicoes, an NGO which works for the welfare of dogs, says that many dogs are so "traumatised" that it "take weeks to get back to normal behaviour".

"Some dogs get so disoriented, they start running here and there. And, if owners leave the doors open, chances are that some start wandering and get lost in the noisy environment of revelry," she said.

Kuli says street dogs and birds suffer the worst.

"Many birds go blind. Thankfully, this Diwali we haven't had cases of animal cruelty so far, as sometimes people would throw crackers at street dogs resulting in them suffering burns," she said.

Kuli welcomed the Supreme Court ban on the sale of crackers and said the ruling brought a "significant change" and to some extent mitigated the suffering, the pets and strays would undergo otherwise.

"But, as a sensitive society, we should have a law that prohibits bursting of crackers," she asserted.

Frendicoes runs the main shelter in south Delhi's Jungpura area where over 200 rescued dogs are kept.

Some pet-owners spoke to news agency, said they had to keep their cats inside cupboards to muffle the loud noise of crackers.

Snehesh, a dog lover, said on Diwali he closed all the windows and stepped up the volume of TV and stereo to distract his pets -- a six-year-old Labrador and a four-year-old dog of Indian breed.

Dog lover Arti Razdan, who lives in posh Greater Kailash-I area, agreed with Kuli that the ban brought some relief to dogs and other animals, as at least the 'Chhoti Diwali' and daytime on Diwali was quieter compared to last year.

"I have three pets - a St Bernard (9), and a Labrador and a Golden Retriever, both four years old. Stepping up the volume of TV may not work sometimes. And, the poor thing still ends up feeling tormented by the noise," she said.

Festival of firecrackers: A nightmare for birds, dogs


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