A few days ago, a 65-year-oldwoman was mauled and killed by stray dogs in Thiruvananthapuram. Instances ofdog bites in just one state – Kerala - have often been upwards of 1,00,000annually, with human death figures in double digits. The all-India figure ondog bite victims must run into millions.
TheNews Minute reports that the Thiruvananthapuram District Collector wants dogsculled – a nice word for killed – and not just sterilised.
He is right. Strays have noplace in urban India, but we have them in uncontrolled numbers. Nowhere in the developedworld are dogs allowed to roam free in urban areas, posing a threat to unwarycitizens. Dog lovers have to take a large share of the blame for this, for theyrefuse to accept that strays are a menace.
Love for dogs is one thing,pretending that strays somehow serve some useful purpose is quite another. Oneuseful purpose mentioned is that strays deter strangers, but this iscounter-balanced by strays also threatening and biting completely innocentpeople who just happen to be passing by.
One suspects that many doglovers love themselves more than their dogs, since dogs give unconditional love,unlike cats or other pets. This is why they may also be investing too little intheir training and upbringing.
Consider what dog lovers do.
Even as India adopts SwachchBharat as a credo, and wants to become ODF (open-defecation free), well-to-do doglovers happily use public pavements and streets to let their dog drop theirloads. A few building societies penalise owners for letting their dogs depositdoo-doo inside their premises, but this means the stuff gets piled up in publicplaces. This is hardly good civic behaviour.
Second, rich dog-lovers have afascination for pure breeds, which means they do only arranged mating,preventing dogs from doing their thing naturally. Love marriages may be growingin Indian society, but among pedigreed dog-lovers it is the opposite.
Third, dog lovers preventstrays from being officially culled. This is what leads people in slums andother stray-infested places to take the law into their own hands. They poisonor stone strays. Municipal dog squads are simply unable to contain theproliferation of strays, given poor resources. When there is no one to takecare of strays, vigilantism becomes the norm. You have wanton cruelty to dogs.
Dog laws need to be modernisedto ensure that strays are gradually sterilised and/or culled so that theirpopulation is steadily reduced. The ultimate goal should be stray-free streets.And yes, dog lovers need to be enrolled in Swachch Bharat, especially the partabout making it open-defecation free.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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