Diwali runaways – too often seen during this festive season… Animals sustain injuries, lose their home and sometimes even their lives to the fireworks.

Lily was found in H-Block, Saket on November 6th 2021, two days after Diwali. As our community dogs defended their territory, Lily was, desperately, seeking shelter under a car. I leapt into action to prevent a dog fight. Seeing me defend her, Lily came out from under the car and stood next to me. She had a big gash on her back which needed immediate medical attention. I decided to take her to Friendicoes. She was so easy to handle. She got into our car and off we went. At this point, I was not looking to take on responsibility of more dogs, and I was hoping the staff at Friendicoes could help me find her a home, or at least board her for the duration of her treatment. They didn’t have the capacity for it. They dressed her wound and asked me to bring her back the next day. Next, the question arose – where to leave her for the night? We drove back and stopped outside the entrance to H-Block. I was hoping she would recognise the area and maybe be able to retrace her steps from the previous 2 days.

I got out of the car, and so did she. I walked 2 steps, and so did she. I stopped, and so did she! I walked with her into J-block. She walked beside me but refused to leave. Now we had a problem. I obviously couldn’t bring her home (we already had 3 dogs). But of course, I couldn’t leave her there either – and she so sweetly demanded it! Luckily, at the time, I was renting an apartment in H-block, mainly to take care of our community dogs, so they could have a safe place at night if they wanted. I brought Lily to this apartment.

The second day, I took her to Friendicoes again, and the doctor decided to stitch up her wound as it was too deep to heal on its own. They sedated her and did the procedure, as I watched. I carried her back to the car where she slowly regained consciousness. No fear or aggression. I took her everyday to Friendicoes for about 5 days, and then once a week later. Once her stitches were off, I asked the vet if I could wash her to which he agreed. I bathed Lily. She was not happy, but tolerated it without much protest. The next task was to get her adopted, because there was no hope of tracing back her ‘home’. She was such an easy dog, I thought her adoption would be easy-breezy. I was wrong. I posted on a few groups on Facebook – didn’t get much response aside from a few likes and hearts. By this time, I had, also, developed an attachment with her. I was able to convince my parents to adopt her, and so we did! Four dogs in the house can be chaotic at times, but we adore Lily. And I am so happy to have found her.

Last year over Diwali (2022), the fireworks triggered her trauma again. She was shaking, cowering under the bed, running across the room trying to get out. She was in panic mode. She is no longer in danger, but her mental wounds run deep and she will bear these scars for the rest of her life. Her story is still one of the happier ones. She found another home. Not every dog gets that opportunity.

Simba’s story is absolutely heart-breaking. And I hope we can learn from her loss, which she didn’t deserve, at all. Simba was born in H-Block, Saket in 2019. From the beginning, she was one of the shier, more anxious dogs. She was loved by children in the area, but she was bullied by her siblings. And often, harassed by some human passers-by. Over time, she developed a habit of snapping at people walking, from behind. She then bit quite a few people, and was forced to go to a rescue for rehabilitation in March 2021. She spent 4 months there, 3 months more than the agreed upon time. Upon her return, her pack members weren’t particularly kind to her, and she lived in quite a bit of fear of them. However, her snapping had completely stopped. She was slowly beginning to re-adjust to her area. Around Diwali 2021, she began snapping again. And again, she had to be taken to the rescue. She absolutely hated it there, and begged to return, whenever any of us would visit her there. In January 2022, while at the shelter, she escaped. The staff were unable to track her down. My heart breaks every time I think of her. Her home was taken away from her. I hope she is well wherever she is.

Dodo disappeared after Diwali 2022. She lived in H-block alongside several other dogs, but was never a member of their pack. She was often attacked by the other community dogs. I believe the chaos of Diwali night fireworks coupled with being alone caused her to run away. I hope she is well.

Brownie was found in H-block, Saket after Diwali 2022. He seemed to be an abandoned or a runaway pet. He was just a pup, and hyper-active. His enthusiasm and pup-like instincts were not welcomed by many. He was beaten as he was deemed to be aggressive. He was not. He was just very playful and liked to jump up to greet people. Life on the streets was becoming more and more dangerous for him. He formed a close bond with a sweet boy, but unfortunately, they were not able to adopt him. He was sent to a rehabilitation facility where he still resides. Brownie didn’t deserve his fate.

Julie is one of the community dogs in Saket H-Block. She came to the colony when she was only a few months old and is taken care of by a couple. She is neutered, vaccinated and well fed. Julie is terrified of fireworks. On Diwali, the couple usually takes her inside their home (as well as other community dogs) to protect her from the explosives. However, they forgot about the “festive” bombs going off on Dussehra. It was 2016 when, Julie ran away in panic when suddenly the Dashami fireworks went off at dusk. She was lost for 36 hours and when she finally returned, her hip was dislocated. She must have been hiding in a drain, not able to get out for 2 days. Lack of water and food and the fear of dying must have forced her to pull herself out through tremendous pains while tearing the muscles and tendons of her leg, dislocating her hip in the process of saving her life. She was operated a few days before Diwali 2016. The cost of her operation was borne by the couple, while those who are bursting illegal crackers go unpunished. Julie recovered but sustained permanent damage, which is especially now showing up in her old age…

These are just four stories. There are many more to tell. Some have happy endings, most don’t. Let their suffering not go in vain: let’s celebrate an animal friendly Diwali!

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