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The shooter of stray dogs

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In this day and age, when animal rights are increasingly recognised and respected, social activists would probably reprimand me for writing about Raya Parulekar, who hailed from Donvaddo in Saligao, Goa. For, he was employed by the government to shoot stray dogs in the village of Saligao.

Of course this was in the days when the Portuguese ruled Goa and shooting of stray dogs was mandatory. At that time the healthcare system was ill-equipped to take care of persons who had been bitten by dogs, stray or otherwise. Further, people feared that the stray dogs could be infected with rabies. So the regedor of the village in collaboration with the president of the comunidade was empowered to get rid of any stray dogs deemed to be a nuisance or danger. In the days before electricity came to the village of Saligao, going out at night was a scary proposition. Anyone who ventured out was always armed with a danda (stick) and a burning chutt’ti or ponti (makeshift torch), to ward off the vicious stray dogs, which often attacked without warning.

To be appointed as a stray dog shooter in Goa, one needed to have specific abilities and proficiencies. Perhaps, a known propensity for cruelty to animals was one of the prerequisites. To own a gun in Goa required special permission from the authorities – it had to be registered with the government as well as the Goan police.

So Raya was one of the men chosen to get rid of stray dogs in Saligao. A big gun slung across his shoulders, he cycled round the whole village and unfeelingly gunned down the stray dogs he came across. An unfailing sharpshooter, his aim was mercilessly accurate every single time. The hapless victims were then buried by the villagers or passers-by.

During the monsoons, the pigs that destroyed the rice fields belonging to the Saligao comunidade were also put to sleep by Raya. Sometimes domesticated dogs and pigs also became an unintentional target, if they were inadvertently allowed to roam free by their owners. Such accidental killings were of course distressing for everyone, but in the larger interest of the village, all abided with the government policy of getting rid of stray dogs in Goa.

7 comments on The shooter of stray dogs

  • [...] I’m not against dogs, but not madly pro dogs either – if people want to keep dogs or other pets, that’s their business, as long as they clean up the dog’s business on the streets too! There needs to be a law to enforce scooping of the pooping on the roads and footpaths. And as for strays, they’re an absolute menace, and I think it’s pretty ridiculous how snooty ’society types’ make a show of fussing over them on the streets, just as long as they don’t enter into their own compounds or houses (there are rare exceptions to this generalisation of mine of course). Stray dogs are always loitering around just near the Carter promenade dog park, not because they envy their more privileged cousins within, but because those same ‘high-society types’ throw food for them on the rocks nearby and generally create a mess all around. I don’t endorse cruelty to any living being, but a humane neutering programme for strays in Bombay is, in my opinion, the need of the day. They’d shoot stray dogs in Portuguese Goa back in the old days, don’t you know? (Read all about it on Saligao Serenade) [...]

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