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Stray Dogs Turn Blue on the Streets of Mumbai

Animals in History | June 19, 2018

In Mumbai, India, a colorful phenomenon was taking place among the stray dogs of the large city, specifically in the industrial district of Taloja. Workers from a local factory, along with some of the city’s residents, noticed this strange event taking place and immediately called authorities.

What was this bizarre phenomenon?

Stray dogs with bright, blue fur, known as “The Blue Dogs of Mumbai”.

In the manufacturing district of this great city, there are approximately 1,000 pharmaceutical and chemical factories. When the blue dogs of Mumbai were discovered an investigation was launched as to why and how this had happened. It was theorized that these factories were releasing waste into a drainage ditch that flowed into the Mumbai River. High levels of chloride were also found in another nearby body of water called the Kasadi River. Stray dogs were known to wade through these rivers. Some authorities believed that the chemical waste from these factories had stained the dogs’ fur while swimming in the water.

Animal right activist Arati Chauhan, discovered this theory to be false. Rather the dogs were found to be loitering near a pigment and detergent factory 2 miles from the Kasadi River. It was here their fur turned blue from the stale water on the grounds of the factory. 

A local neighborhood human rights activist was notified of the blue dogs. This activist reached out to a neighborhood animal rights advocate who then contacted a local animal hospital. The hospital sent an ambulance straight to the factory. The veterinarian confirmed that the dye on their fur was a powdery, blue residue. Although it’s not toxic when left on their fur it can be toxic when ingested as the dogs groom themselves.

This was not the only incident of dogs being affected by the industrial waste left behind by these manufacturing and chemical companies. A few days following the discovery of the blue dogs, residents rescued a dog that was trapped in a ditch. The ditch was full of water that contained nitric acid from another nearby factory.

The Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell filed a complaint with authorities and the local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) took responsibility for the care of the dogs. Thankfully all animals were found to be in good health, and the dye cleaned off of them. The detergent factory also placed a net over the area where the dogs were dyed to prevent them from going back in.

Although the local SPCA only counted five dogs that were found to be affected by the blue dye, it is speculated that more could be afflicted due to the high population of stray dogs in Mumbai.

What’s so encouraging about this event is how the community rallied around the blue dogs in a genuine effort to help them.

India is known for its very pro-dog laws. It is illegal to kill stray animals that are seemingly healthy. The result of these laws is staggering, meaning there are literally millions of stray animals across the entire country. India also has some of the highest rates of rabies on the planet.

Respect for animals is written into India’s constitution, which states that the country should “have compassion for living creatures”. There are those who believe the term “stray” is disrespectful towards these creatures. Instead they are called “community dogs”. Mumbai has also been unofficially labeled a sanctuary city for these protected animals. 

There are several residents, even the poorest of Mumbai, that ensure these animals are fed and well-cared for. A famous Bollywood actress cooks chicken and rice dishes every single morning for the community dogs in her neighborhood. There’s a story of another woman who drives around delivering meals containing special spices, specifically created with these dogs in mind.

“India is pretty unique,” says Ingrid Newkirk, the British-American co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Maybe it’s a karmic sense, this idea that the dog could be you and if you don’t watch out in life it could be you again. Or maybe it’s just that the poor have greater compassion because they can relate to other individuals who are having a hard time trying to survive.”

More than a dozen charities in Mumbai journey around the city providing first aid to sick dogs and taking healthy dogs to local animal hospitals to be vaccinated and sterilized. They are then brought right back to the neighborhood in which they were found.

A happy ending was in the stars for all five of the blue dogs discovered. After being cleaned and checking all vitals, they were released. The male dog that was discovered in the ditch full of nitric acid remained in the hospital for five days for observation purposes. At the end of his hospital visit he was also discharged with a clean bill of health.

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Marion Wijnberg

Writer

Marion lives in Ohio and has two grown children and one grandson. As well as loving the time she gets to spend with them, she also enjoys rescuing animals. Marion currently has 2 cats and a dog. She also loves to travel, read, play tennis and go horseback riding."