5 min read
The day we begin feeding or caring for streeties, we begin to see our neighbourhoods differently. The streets are no longer just paths that we walk alone to get to a destination. Along the way, these animals create pit stops where we’re greeted with joy and showered with love.
We also realise how exposed and unsafe the streets can be for streeties. The risk of accidents is high and since there’s no guarantee that they will receive medical attention, even a small injury can be life threatening. Those in animal welfare have figured out a simple solution– reflective collars. Wondering what they are? Read on:
Founder, Voiceless India
Reflective dog collars function the same way a road stud does. They work as regular collars for dogs but what sets them apart is the reflective tape that shines brightly when a vehicle's headlight falls on it. This alerts the driver to the dog’s presence in low-light conditions and reduces the risk of an accident. Getting a reflective collar for street dogs is a simple and effective way of keeping your community dogs safe.
There are two kinds of reflective dog collars. The most common one is made of ‘Fabric Reflective Tape’, a special fabric that reflects light itself which is then stitched onto a nylon cloth. These collars can survive harsh conditions and last longer.
The second kind is made of ‘Heat Reflective Tape’ where a reflective strip is pasted on the collar through the process of ‘heating’. These are more likely to wither away with time.
HUFT TIP: Caring for community animals is often a group effort. If you’re not able to commit to feeding the dogs in your area every day, you could volunteer to provide the reflective collars, the water bowls or anything else that’s useful. You could even hand over the collars to regular feeders if you’re not confident about approaching the dogs yourself. You can extend your support even from a distance, every little bit counts!
Besides helping to protect your community dogs from accidents, wearing a collar also indicates that they are being cared for and these dogs are less likely to be relocated. Adding an ID tag or a phone number to the reflective collar would be useful if the dog accidentally wandered away from his or her territory. Loud noises make dogs very anxious, this is why celebrations involving firecrackers often result in several lost pets and community dogs. They run around in a panic, often out of their homes and territories. Reflective dog collars with name plates can hold your contact information so rescuers can bring your community dogs back.
Getting your community dog a reflective collar is important. But the job doesn’t end there. With time, the collar can get too tight, too loose or can even be stolen or torn. If a young, growing dog is collared, then the collar must be adjusted as he or she gets bigger. Checking regularly and making adjustments as required is important to ensure continued safety and comfort for the dog.
“There was a dog who was too scared of people and was not letting me put the collar on him. I gave him food and kept trying for a week. After a week, I gained his trust and he let me put the collar on him. Now he’s my friend!”
Volunteer, Reflective Collar Drive
While some streeties are friendly and will run up to you for pets or treats, others are wary and will not like being petted. It largely depends on the experiences they have had with people in the past. Building a rapport with a dog first is crucial to successfully collaring him or her. Regular feeding is one way to start gaining their trust and making a positive association with your presence. It can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to do this. Our Reflective Collar Drives, held in collaboration with Voiceless India, operated through local feeders across cities. These feeders were already friendly with the dogs in their neighbourhoods and were committed to caring for them in the future as well.
“The dogs were so calm and cooperative. It was heart-warming to see how they give love and trust us so unconditionally.“
Volunteer, Reflective Collar Drive
Voiceless India is a non-profit organisation (founded in 2016) that aims to protect the rights of non-human animals and the planet through education and direct-impact initiatives.
Their recent Reflective Collar Drive 2021 had 90+ volunteers across Delhi, Bangalore and Cuttack who successfully collared 1000 dogs with our HUFT Foundation Reflective Collars. In addition, many smaller collaborative drives have been organised by the Foundation with other individuals and partner stores.
“The purpose of the Foundation is to educate people about peaceful co-existence. When one starts to understand something, they start to care and act for it.”
There are a multitude of ways to help. Besides feeding and safeguarding your community dogs with reflective dog collars, you can ensure that they’re routinely vaccinated. Spaying/neutering community dogs is also key, but most important is finding them places where they’re loved and taken care of.
Watch Shobha live her best life and enrich the lives of those around her
The little things we do can all add up to creating a safe space where streeties can sleep knowing that they belong to a community and that they’re safe.
*All imagery used is the property of Heads Up For Tails Foundation and Voiceless India and cannot be used or distributed without prior permission.
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