This online community of volunteers has helped 900+ street dogs find their forever homes
Abhishek Joshi, the founder of DogWithBlog, talks to Social Story about how the initiative is trying to promote dog adoptions as against buying pedigree dogs from breeders.
In India, stray dogs rarely find homes despite being best-suited to withstand and flourish in tropical climates. Pedigree dogs have been seen and marketed as status symbols for far too long and people often buy dogs without realising that they are a product of a cruel breeding industry. Further, several people bring them home impulsively, without considering the time, effort and money they will have to put in to raise them. When reality hits them, many end up abandoning their companion animals.
DogWithBlog is an online platform that raises awareness of their plight and takes a community-driven approach to conduct free dog adoptions. They use the power of the internet to circulate appeals for strays looking for homes and widen their reach. They not only help rehabilitate abandoned dogs but also use newsletters, social media channels and the blog to share pet care tips, dog adoption guides, etc. to make prospective pet parents aware of what they are getting into.
How it all started
Abhishek and his sister, Abhilasha have been animal lovers since childhood. Coming from a family of dog lovers, they were exposed to books and movies that promoted compassion towards dogs and helped them see rescued dogs and adoptions in a better light. They began by taking care of the strays in their neighbourhood. DogWithBlog started with the purpose of expanding its reach beyond its locality.
“Our first pet Rusty was rescued from a garage. During the PG days, we created a blog to share and celebrate the stories of dogs around us- the stray, abandoned and homeless pups. Over time, we saw our content drive awareness towards adoptions as against buying a pedigree from a fancy breeder store.” Abhishek told Social Story.
The power of community
Community lies at the heart of this initiative. What started as a small team of three people- Abhishek ( Founder), Abhilasha ( Co-founder) and a member helping them with the technical aspect, now has a base of 130k+ dog lovers all rooting for #adoptdontshop. They’ve successfully conducted over 900+ dog adoptions. DogWithBlog integrates active communities thereby connecting those fostering and rescuing dogs to those looking to adopt them. They use social media platforms and adoption newsletters to spread the word about rescued dogs looking for a home. The blog shares tips for prospective and current pet parents to take the best care of their companions.
“Ours is a community-driven approach, and we don’t seek grants/funds from people. We sustain the costs on our own. In the past, we have collaborated with brands like Himalaya Pet care to help the adoption heroes who adopt stray dogs with pet care products.” Abhishek said. The 130k+ and growing community helps them reach a vast number of people without spending on marketing. On the way, they have connected with some amazing people- lawyers, media personalities etc. who lend their voice to adoptions.
“Twitter and Facebook have played a vital role in our journey. Many notable personalities like Mohit Chauhan, Tehsin Poonawala, and Nidhi Razdan have always helped us by retweeting and sharing our appeals.” he added.
Selecting suitable homes
All the leads and inquiries for adoptions are vetted using a pre-adoption checklist. Factors ranging from location, accommodation type, consent of family members, accessibility to a vet are all taken into account. These are validated by the network and respective adoption coordinator for the case. There are also city-centric adoption resources where readers can find updated information on NGOs, shelters, and adoption inquiries. One can also sign up for the adoption newsletter to receive updates on dogs who need a loving home.
Challenges on the way
“The foremost challenge has been of the mindset and bias towards mixed breeds, mutts and desi dogs. Most of the inquiries end up being about pedigree dogs, but with time, the adoption rates are improving for the desi dogs too. We celebrate happy adoption stories and interviews with families who chose to bring home a desi dog and we see the perception for pariah dogs is gradually changing.” shared Abhishek.
The negligence towards desi dogs can be disheartening but being able to change the world for a dog, give them a second chance at life is what keeps them going. During the pandemic, they came across a cruelty case where a dog was dragged behind a two-wheeler. While they couldn’t find the culprit, through medical care and support they were able to revive him and find him a loving home.
Impact of the pandemic
In the aftermath of the pandemic, DogWithBlog saw an increase in the number of inquiries for adoptions. The pandemic induced isolation resulted in a spike in queries during the first wave of COVID-19.
The task was to filter through the requests and they took interested people through a detailed reckoner to ensure they knew what bringing a pet home entails and its implications post-pandemic. Having said that, Abhishek confirms that 2020 has been one of the best years in terms of successful dog adoptions.
DogWithBlog is currently working on a book to celebrate the desi dogs and adoptions.
They would be exploring content partnerships with some like-minded brands, revamping the website UX and increasing the posting frequency.
Edited by Diya Koshy George