Posted on October 26, 2015: Sanjana Madappa is no stranger to animal rescue and welfare. Probably why she was able to bust misconceptions about rescue dogs and Rottweilers with such skill...
They say, like mother, like daughter. It seems Sanjana Madappa has taken after her mother Sandhya Madappa as far as charitable work for animals is concerned. Her mother is a trustee on the board of the non-profit organisation CUPA (Compassion Unlimited Plus Action) which works towards the wellbeing of abused, abandoned and neglected animals. Sanjana’s association with the NGO goes back to her early teens. She started out as a volunteer which soon took on the characteristics of a passionate full time commitment. She explains, “I work with the rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing of abandoned and abused animals. I do this primarily as a volunteer but it takes up as much time as a full time job would. I'm very happy the board put enough faith in me to handle this responsibility. It's given me the chance to work with some wonderful people and even more wonderful dogs.”
Rottweilers make good pets
Currently, this dynamic lady is working tirelessly to debunk the myth - Rottweilers are ferocious dogs that don't make good pets. In fact, even Sanjana was of the belief that Rottweilers were unruly canines, but she soon changed her mind, “I have always been fascinated with the breed. Unfortunately, it started out with the stereotype that the breed is aggressive and that was what intrigued me about them. But the more time I spent with not just this breed but with all dogs, I realized that the problem has to do with the people who raised them, not with the dog.”
Because of being wrongly bred, raised or socialized, Rottweilers sadly often end up as abandoned pets. Sanjana has been rescuing forsaken Rottweilers, for more than two years now. She says, “I rescued my first Rottweiler, Diego, in February in 2013. He was a young adult at that time, already around 1.2 years old. He was not friendly, having been cooped in a bathroom in a factory in Madiwala. It took me around two months with him to gain his trust, but he did place that trust in me after a while.”
Winning Diego’s confidence served as a life changing experience for Sanjana. She narrates, “There was no looking back with him from that day onwards. He has been with me ever since. In the last two years, I have worked with 19 rescued Rottweilers ranging from four months in age to six years. I have not been bitten by even one. Even the ones who came in with behavioural issues have been re-homed and are like puppies with their new parents. Diego in particular has motivated me to try and move into the therapy dog field where I would like him to help other people and dogs.”
She is against people typecasting breeds. She says, “I want people to see that if you do right by a dog, irrespective of breed, though it may take some time, he/ she will reciprocate tenfold. I want people to stop stereotyping breeds and stop training them to be aggressive because they are powerful breeds. I want people to understand the dog they take home better.”
Rescue dogs make good pets
Yet another myth that she is trying to quash is that rescue dogs are difficult to have as pets in a home or that they are dirty and not as affectionate. Deserted dogs after all need a loving and caring home. She says, “The sheer number of dogs being abandoned is alarming. They need somewhere to go or else we will soon be seeing exotic breed dogs as commonly as the Indies on the roads. I want to help people understand that age is not a criteria to a dog adjusting in a new house. We have re-homed ten and 11-year-old dogs who have behaved like they have lived with the new family forever. Dogs respond to love, discipline, trust and respect. They are also highly instinctive. If they sense you opening your hearts to them, they can be even more loyal and affectionate than dogs that have been with their human parents since puppyhood. Irrespective of their age or their background, a dog will adjust if a person has the patience to give him/her some time. I want to encourage people to do this. We have had 209 adoptions in the past two years with 274 dogs being abandoned. I want that number to break even.”
Introspecting on why callous pet owners discard their pets, she says, “Most dogs abandoned have been bought by people who have not thought it through. Before you get a dog, study the breed of the dog, what the dog was bred for. Gauge the average cost of maintaining that breed per month. Research its life span and see if you can commit to being responsible for that amount of time. Investigate how to take good care of that breed. If people educate themselves about the kind of dog they bring home, I think the number of dogs being abandoned will reduce considerably.”
This enterprising young lady has bright future plans for welfare of animals, “I really want to pursue this therapy dog line with Diego. I want him to be the face that changes all these misconceptions. Hopefully, I can open a state-of-the-art shelter/ hospital for dogs in the future. It would be great if I could do that with CUPA. Eventually I would like to open a horse sanctuary as well.”
Well, we hope Sanjana does actualize her dreams someday. For now, here’s hoping more people take note of her dogged determination to clear the bad name that Rottweilers and rescue dogs have gained, for no fault of their own.