There is enough tragedy in the human lives lost due to accidents in India’s roads. But there’s little guilt, and no penalties, when it comes to the many animals that suffer a similar fate. We believe that as non-humans, this is their fate, or that they deserve less. But whatever the individual attitude, it’s necessary that human societies at large acknowledge such suffering endured by animals as important. So let’s talk about how we can make this happen.
Chutki. This beloved Cubbon Park puppy was killed in a hit-and-run at 4 pm on December 1. Not even 10 months old, vaccinated, just spayed, her blithe spirit was loved by all. Till a car rammed into her and left her to die, blood oozing from her mouth. Much later, another car took Chutki, her heart still beating, to CUPA. But she did not survive the journey and lay dead on the table.
A few days later, her ashes were scattered in the park she loved and grew up in, through the paths she walked, the grass she rolled in. We tried to remember the good times, but when we reached the spot she was killed and scattered the last of her ashes, we wept.
A life we all loved was snuffed out in a second by a speeding car driver, with no thought, no respect for life and no punishment. In Bengaluru alone, about 50 dogs and other animals suffer such accidents every day. Many die painfully on the spot, a few are reported or taken to a shelter, and even fewer survive.
Think about it.
Yes, you didn’t know Chutki. Or Asha of JP Nagar. Or our Buckette Girl of Military Park. Or Barcelona. Or Ruby of Aga Abba Ali Road. We understand. But we have had enough. Of loss and helpless rage, while the driver’s only worry might be about washing the blood off the tyres.
Why did they not stop? Are animals lesser beings than humans? We can understand that many of us think so, but does their needless death not deserve some punishment and penalty? And be prevented?
What we want:
- Road Safety Council/ Commissioners, Transport Department, National Highways Commission must make this part of their charter in every city and communicate this assertively. Create a Road Safety Good Samaritan Award for Animals as well. Have an Animal Road Safety Week every year on Dec 1st. Get RTO’s involved.
- Traffic Police in each city must treat such cases with care and check CCTV and number plates. Rumblers and speed bumps must be put up as required.
- Driving license issue and renewal must have a sign-off on laws, safety for humans and animals. Posters must be prominently put up. Killer drivers should have their driving licenses seized for a month. We can also ensure callous drivers must be reported to AWBI and District SPCA. They also must be reported to civic authorities like BBMP, so they never get a pet license again.
- Automobile companies should put aside a small percentage of CSR funds every year to animal shelters, specifically for accident victims.
- Ride-share firms like Ola, Uber and even public buses and autos (via their associations or unions) should be given refresher courses and sensitised to be more respectful of animal lives.
- Penalty should go beyond the Rs 50 fine and insurance premium for such drivers must be increased. It must include endangerment to animal life, community service for drivers where they work with sick and dying accident victims in animal shelters and hospitals.
- Increased shelter/hospital availability and funding for such shelters who take in accident victims. They are currently underfunded and overloaded.
- Sensitize Citizens & Stakeholders: Proper understanding and training for citizens, to be more empathetic and less dismissive of this issue and their roles as good samaritans. In the case of Chutki, the security person opposite was uninterested in taking down the number of the speeding car. He neither helped the dog nor inform caretakers or the Horticulture Department.
- Tighter laws – The Animal Welfare Board of India must ensure that they take up this issue on a war footing and include it as part of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Local District SPCA must make it part of their campaigns, and publicise in schools and educational institutions.
- Community Organisations like Rotary, Lions, Inner Wheel etc should take it up.
What we need is a greater responsibility towards this, and to ensure that such drivers don’t speed but treat the pain and suffering they cause with appropriate respect and pay the penalty.
Our little Chutki, who had the whole park to play in and all of us to love, could have lived out her days in relative happiness rather than lie in the middle of the road bleeding to death; leaving us with a hole inside all our hearts and a needless eulogy. We can’t allow this anymore.
Make their lives matter, please. It’s up to you.
You can also click here to sign the petition to ensure justice for animal hit and runs.