Recently, 200 stray dogs were killed in Bangalore to free the city of the ‘dangerous’ animal. And over 1,300 were captured in five days. This drive was a backlash of two children being mauled to death by street dogs. But, who was the real villain here? The ‘dangerous’ dogs or WE?
Millions of stray animals live on the streets of India and some form dangerous feral packs that often attack people. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India has nearly 80 per cent of the world’s rabies fatalities, and the largest reservoir of the disease are dogs. Obviously, they are ‘dangerous’. But, are we that innocent? What makes them attack us? Whenever we spot a stray animal, we hit, stone and even kill them.
This compels them to attack us. Moreover, we have no control over garbage disposal, which acts as an incentive for these animals, as they find food near these garbage dumps. Very few of them are fed and taken care of by residential communities. The rest wander in the streets. We also fail in taking steps for our own protection. Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme is implemented by few municipalities. When measures are taken, enforcements go awry, and drive becomes overdrive (like in Bangalore).
So, what can we do?
We should warn the person torturing the animals about the laws. If the offender does not obey the laws, we may launch a FIR at the closest police station. And if an area’s municipality kills homeless dogs, we may complain to the municipality commissioner about it. The Animal Welfare Board of India has developed a set of guidelines for municipalities to implement the ABC (or catch/spay/neuter/vaccinate and release) programme. We can urge the animal welfare organisation in the area to take it up. Or, we can help these animals by feeding them (even the left-overs from our everyday meals), taking an injured animal to a veterinary or simply by not shooing them out of our colonies.
But, when it is a matter of life and death of people, where do we draw the line between our safety and their survival?
It is against the law to: