In the wake of the tragic incident involving the unfortunate demise of Gujarat businessman Parag Desai in Ahmedabad, the issue of India’s stray dog population has once again taken center stage.
After the Gujrat businessman’s fatal accident, chased by street dogs during his morning walk, India’s citizens face a grim reality where dog attacks lead to horrifying deaths of kids and senior citizens, but still no action from the Indian government.
The statistics surrounding these incidents are alarming.
Between 2019 and 2022 –
- 16 million stray dog bite cases were reported.
- Average 10,000+ cases daily.
An NCBI report says 6,644 clinically suspected human rabies-related deaths between 2012 and 2022 in India.
These figures reflect poorly on our nation’s aspirations to become developed and raise the question:
Why is India struggling with a problem developed countries have managed to control?
- In India, removing stray dogs from the streets is illegal. They remain on the streets until they are adopted, which is rare.
- The government’s Animal Birth Control Program 2001, aimed at controlling the stray dog population through sterilization and vaccination, has failed due to poor implementation.
- Municipal corporations and NGOs responsible for sterilizations often cite a lack of funds, resources, corruption, and insufficient coordination between government agencies as the root causes of their ineffectiveness.
- India has a complex relationship with stray dogs; some feed them out of kindness, while others suffer from dog bites. Open littering attracts stray dogs, leaving them hungry and sometimes aggressive. The lack of proper waste management adds to the issue.
- The pandemic has also affected the behavior of stray dogs. Experts note that they have become more aggressive post-pandemic due to food shortages, pet abandonment, and reduced human-dog interactions. Dogs’ territorial nature is intensified when fed in the same area, making it crucial for dog feeders to ensure that strays are vaccinated.
Dogs, Sticks, and Activism: Social Media Tensions
Videos of viral dog bite incidents on social media have led to calls for strong action to address the problem. There have been confrontations between animal lovers and those opposing their activities in public spaces.
Carry a stick to keep safe from stray dogs on morning walks. If there are dog lover activists in your area, carry a bigger stick.
— Arun Bothra (@arunbothra) October 23, 2023
Senior IPS officer Arun Bothra’s tweet after the Parag Desai incident drew mixed reactions. He emphasized the need to carry a stick for self-defense during morning walks and urged dog lover activists to understand that stray dogs pose a problem.
India accounts for 36% of the world’s rabies deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Rabies vaccines are often too expensive for those from lower-income groups, leading to tragic outcomes.
The Supreme Court has recently discussed finding humane and lasting solutions to human-stray dog conflicts, notably in Kerala.
Instead of culling dogs, animal activists argue for addressing the issue’s root causes through sterilization and supporting dog feeders who help stray dogs become more trusting and friendly.
The problem of India’s stray dog population is not rooted in the lack of policies but in the inefficient execution of sterilization programs. There is public outrage with each tragic dog bite incident, but the responsible authorities must take ownership to bring about lasting change.