Don’t buy a dog. Adopt. That’s the message Bollywood actor Imran Khan wants to give his followers.
Following in the footsteps of his uncle Aamir Khan, who is a Bollywood icon known for making movies with social messaging, Imran is supporting an advertising campaign by People for Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA), in raising awareness about stray dogs.
And Khan practices what he preaches. The star of the 2008 Hindi blockbuster “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na” says his life was enriched after he adopted Tony and that he would like his legions of fans to experience the same joy.
Tony was found wandering in Mumbai streets by Khan’s friend who took the dog to the Bollywood star. Khan lodged a complaint with local police and was told that the dog was abandoned by its owners. Khan gave shelter to the orphaned dog who stayed with him till the dog’s death recently.
“Tony changed my life,” says Khan.
“Ultimately it boils down to how much you care.”
He wants to open an animal shelter.
“I care a lot about animals. If I see an injured animal, sick animal and essentially any animal I feel I could help in some way, I do that.
“The fact is that there are dogs and cats and all kinds of animals roaming around the streets. Very often people buy dogs, buy cats – they see them as toys or as fashion accessories. They get bored of them and they … throw them out of the house. That’s a very horrible thing to do.”
More than 25 million stray dogs lead a ‘dog’s life’ in India, braving hot weather, merciless drivers, starvation, and many times, fatal attacks. Thousands of dogs take refugee in animal shelters because adopting a stray dog is not a culture in India yet.
“Every time a dog or cat has a litter, it means fewer homes for the dogs and cats who are languishing in animal shelters or roaming the streets,” says a PETA statement.
In a country where the man leads a dog’s life, indifferent attitude towards stray animals is not surprising.
Prospective cat or dog owners will help the cause of stray animals if they visit an animal shelter to adopt a pet or take in a homeless animal from the streets. PETA also reminds guardians always to get their animal companions sterilised.