Dog's 'drastic change' as it struggles to survive

Michael Dahlstrom
·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

A street dog suffering from a horrifying abdominal mass has been given a second change by a family who have adopted him as a pet.

Sheru was one of an estimated 35 million stray dogs in India, many are suffering from starvation and disease. 

The conditions are so severe that 80 per cent of puppies do not make it through their first year.

Efforts to find places for strays in shelters have been unsuccessful, according to animal welfare group Humane Society International (HSI), and finding veterinary care is unfeasible in poorer communities.

When Sheru was found living on the streets she was injured from fighting with other dogs. Source: HSI
When Sheru was found living on the streets she was injured from fighting with other dogs. Source: HSI

With the sight of sick and dying animals upsetting for communities, the charity have been treating them using a mobile vet clinic.

At night, the dogs have been known to chase passing motorbikes, and the most frequent medical call out is to road accidents where dogs have been found with fractures and suffering from shock.

In a bid to improve dog welfare, HSI has funded the community adoption of some dogs and also assisted in placing street dogs with families.

India is home to an estimated 35 million stray dogs. Source: Getty
India is home to an estimated 35 million stray dogs. Source: Getty

Family chooses street dog over regular pet

Sheru was originally noticed by locals wandering the streets of Hubli in the state of Karnataka. 

The puppy had been wounded from attacks by other dogs, and he was also suffering from an abdominal mass.

While the initial response was to treat Sheru and see him cared for in his “natural state” on the street by the local community, he was fortunate enough to be adopted into a family.

While dog ownership is common in India, taking strays into the home is not.

Eighty per cent of dogs living on India's streets don't live to a year. Source: Getty
Eighty per cent of dogs living on India's streets don't live to a year. Source: Getty

Narendra Joshi, who adopted Sheru, said via a translator that dog owners often don’t apply the same compassion to street dogs as they do to their own pets.

“People who pay money and buy dogs often care for them well but very few people care for dogs on the street,” Mr Joshi said.

“They do not want the dogs on the street interacting with their pet dogs.

“They often chase the street dogs away if they come close”.

When Sheru was first adopted he found it difficult to adjust to life with a family. Source: HSI
When Sheru was first adopted he found it difficult to adjust to life with a family. Source: HSI

Mr Joshi said that when he first took Sheru into his home, he was stressed by with the “drastic change” of fighting for survival to being pampered.

For two days she refused to eat, causing her adoptive family to stress, but months on she is part of the family and wolfing down commercial dog food and even begging the family to share their own meals with him.

“He adores my son and daughter,” Mr Joshi said.

“We often ask them not to pamper Sheru too much but that falls on deaf ears.

“Sheru is almost like a cat, if we are sitting by ourselves, he comes and rubs himself against us.”

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