Elections in India’s Uttar Pradesh state are literally going to the dogs as several candidates are reportedly using stray dogs as billboards to make sure their campaign messages reach as many people as possible.

At least two candidates – one in Rae Bareli and another in Ballia district – have been attaching their campaign banners and posters to stray dogs in their areas and letting them roam around. Photos of these walking, barking advertising billboards went viral on social media this past weekend, angering animal protection activists, and inspiring all sorts of memes. But despite the negative feedback to the advertising tactic, one of the candidates who admitted to using dogs to get his message out there has no regrets.

 

“There is no rule in the model code of conduct which prevents us from using stray dogs in the campaign. We are not harming the animal in any way,” the candidate, who preferred to remain unnamed, said. “In fact, we feed the dogs every day. It is a novel idea and the voters are attracted to such innovations.”

Animal activists and dog lovers don’t really agree with the politician. Many of them believe that using the dogs as advertising billboards should be a punishable offence.

“How would a man feel if similar stickers are stuck on his face during the election?” animal rights activist Reena Mishra said. “Just before a dog cannot protest, we have no business to treat them in such a manner. The police should immediately take action against candidates who are resorting to this manner of electioneering.”

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