A post grad journalism student of SIMC, Pune with a passion for using words to get my message across in the most unique ways possible and curiosity is the force that drives me to learn and experience more every day.
A walk around the city, and you will find hundreds of dogs tied to the gates living under harsh conditions. People often buy dogs without realising the cost, time and effort that they need to put in. Soon, the helpless animals end up homeless just as quickly as they were taken in.
Dogs suffer a great deal of mental and physical pain when separated from their owner and are left on the streets. One such community helps find stray and abandoned dogs homes, educate people about pet care, and promote adopting over buying pets - DogWithBlog. It is a unique initiative with many people spread across the country and connected through social media platforms. It is entirely a community-driven initiative where they do not charge any money. Dog lovers from various parts of the country form a network to find dogs living under challenging conditions, provide them with a home, and ensure they are cared for.
In 2009, Abhishek Joshi, a resident of Delhi, created a blog on dog adoption as an extension to what he had learnt in digital marketing during his college days at Amity University, Noida. As a fun project out of love for dogs, what started has today reached out to more than 120 thousand people with 900 plus successful adoptions.
"I created a blog on WordPress when I was pursuing an MBA degree in 2009. To gain traction, I created a Facebook page for the same, and within one and a half years, the blog reached out to 10 thousand people from across India. Very soon, we were able to find homes for stray dogs, and we started sharing the adoption stories on social media platforms," Abhishek shared with The Logical Indian
Abhishek would go out feeding stray dogs and getting them vaccinated. "After a while, I thought whatever I was doing was confined to a particular geographic location. I wondered how I could reach more people and motivate them to do the same," Abhishek added.
To him, the work is not about investing money but volunteering to rescue a dog from a hostile shopkeeper in your neighbourhood or saving them from abusers and find a permanent home for these helpless animals. His message is simple – "If you can't make it better for them, at least don't hurt them".
DogWithBlog started by posting pictures of rescued dogs who were being taken care of. They also posted photos of the dogs for adoption on their Facebook page. The popularity of the Facebook page increased with time, and many people would approach them to adopt the dogs.
People would also tag their friends who are looking for adopting dogs of Indian breed. "It started small. We had to convince people that we are vaccinating them before giving them away. Then we started sharing stories about dogs who found a home," Abhishek told The Logical Indian. Soon people understood that it is normal hygienic to adopt street dogs.
DogWithBlog soon moved to Instagram and Twitter, thereby reaching out to more and more people over the internet. Besides posting stories, DogWithBlog releases a by-monthly newsletter for adoptable pets. For videos, there is a YouTube channel as well.
"During the course of our journey, we have also formed some good relationships with lawyers who help us on a pro-bono basis. Usually, one does not require to file a case. When a lawyer calls up a perpetrator, the issues are solved at once," Abhishek told The Logical Indian while talking about the initiative.
Abhishek feels people are not aware of how they can adopt dogs instead of buying them. "People would see a dog in a movie, and they would want the dog, without considering whether the animal is a right fit for the Indian climate. When I was in Noida, I would see people buying Huskies or dogs not meant for these climates. And after the first few days of posting pictures of them, these dogs would be kept outside their gates, chained and in hostile conditions," he told The Logical Indian.
He believes it is imperative to create a conversation on adopting dogs, and therefore he uses the hashtag #AdoptDontShop in his tweets and posts. Through DogWithBlog and his social media accounts, Abhishek tries to educate the masses on the benefits of adopting a pariah dog instead of buying a foreign breed.
"We maintain a section on advantages of adopting an Indian pariah dog who is the best fit for adoption in India because of their temperament and maintenance, and the temperature in the Indian subcontinent. People look at the cuteness of the dogs without considering the amount of pain their mother went through. The dogs also live in bad conditions under a breeder and often carry genetic diseases," Abhishek said while speaking with The Logical Indian.
"Love cannot be bought. It needs to be adopted", he added. Prominent voices like Mohit Chauhan and Raveena Tandon have also associated themselves with the #AdoptDontShop campaign.
Many people from India and outside approach DogWithBlog with monetary donations, but the group declines it. He recommended donating to the Animal Welfare Board of India or individuals/NGOs that one has personally seen working for the animal cause.
"I do not take money because I started this initiative as a hobby. I have seen how NGOs operate and the challenges they face. I don't want DogWithBlog to become an NGO. I think I am doing better with DogWithBlog as an independent site. Thankfully, we are self-sustainable so we do not require additional support. What we're trying to do is like a virtual shelter or welfare community," the founder told The Logical Indian.
DogWithBlog partnered with National Geographic India for a story on stray dogs on the streets of Delhi. He was also mentioned on Twitter by the official handle of Nat Geo. The Nat Geo program helped DogWithBlog gain more popularity and added more people into their community, which helped get more dogs adopted. He had also associated with a pet care company and hosted social media contests and pet care articles on his blog and social media channels.
Like everything around us, DogWithBlog also faced its share of difficulties during the pandemic. "Because of the pandemic, we missed out on pre-house-checks," Abhishek said. Earlier, members from the community of DogWithBlog would visit the houses where the dogs were being adopted. They checked if someone would be present 24x7 for the dog or if all family members are aligned with the animal's adoption. They would also ensure that the dogs have proper living conditions.
However, Abhishek and his partners could not visit houses during the pandemic due to lockdown and had to trust the adopters' judgment. Anypne interested in adopting a dog is usually particular about the dog's wellbeing. The community's vast network helps reach out to anyone who wants to know about dog medicine, local dog shelters, or simply wants to adopt, at least in metropolitan cities.
The most common problem they face is the mindset of people. To make people understand the importance of adopting instead of buying dogs is a challenge they meet regardless of the pandemic. However, the adoption numbers rose during the lockdown because many people were stuck at home alone, and there's no better company than dogs.
Adoption Of Stray Dogs
Primarily, DogWithBlog is run by a core team of two members and a Tech Team. Besides Abhishek, Abhilasha Joshi, Abhishek's sister, commits her full-time to manage the social media sites. Presently, DogWithBlog has a database of 26 thousand people who have reached out to them and more than one lakh people are connected to them via social media platforms.
While talking with The Logical Indian, Abhishek said, "Daily, we receive 20 to 30 enquiries, among which eight to ten are new enquiries regarding adoption. When we share any adoption post on social media, the enquiries multiply." DogWithBlog has successfully found adoption homes for dogs more than 900 times and is closing in on one thousand.
Shortly, they plan to start a podcast and release a book to keep people informed on how to take care of pets. The money generated from these will go to animal lovers who are helping animals in need. While DogWithBlog doesn't own any shelter or facility for the dogs, their website is a highly innovative tool for anyone interested in fostering a pet or getting information regarding how to handle a pet. Thanks to social media, DogWithBlog has reached out to millions of people who genuinely care for the animals.
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