Stray Dogs Started Turning Blue. Then the Street Mobilized.

Stray Dogs Started Turning Blue. Then the Street Mobilized.

The neighborhood where this happened, Taloja, about an hour’s drive east of central Mumbai, is heavily industrialized. Trucks carrying rolls of steel rumble down the roads. Big plants grow out of the sidewalk. Factories stretch to the horizon and smokestacks spew out who-knows-what, leaving a rotten-egg taste in the air.

As Dilip Bhoir, a contractor here, put it, “No matter how expensive the perfume you wear, you’ll never be able to get rid of that stink.”

Still, Taloja is teeming with canines, and the line between a stray and a pet is blurry. Factory workers and villagers feed certain dogs and even buy shampoo to wash them. But the dogs don’t live inside homes and are free to roam around.

Most of India’s street dogs are about two feet tall, short-haired, curly-tailed, trim but not scrawny, and descended from an ancient breed related to the Australian dingo.

After some factory workers spotted a pack of dogs that were bright blue, Taloja sprang into action.

Workers called a neighborhood human rights activist who then called a neighborhood animal rights advocate who then called a nearby animal hospital. An ambulance was rushed to the scene.

A few days later, in another incident near a factory, villagers waded into a ditch coursing with nitric acid and rescued a dog that was trapped.

Niharika Kishan Gandhi, the wealthy woman who feeds 100 dogs from the back of her Honda in suburban Mumbai, took a stab at answering the question of why Indians, in general, seem especially friendly to animals.

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