November 24, 2022
According to an estimate, 600 million Stray dogs and cats live on the street worldwide. According to World Health organization, Greece alone is estimated to have 3 million stray dogs and cats in a country with 11 million inhabitants! According to another report, India has the largest number of strays in the world, with over 35 million.
Stray- dogs is a global problem with many incidents of street dogs attacking children and adults in many parts of the world. While some people are of the opinion that street is the natural habitat of stray dogs, others are of the view that stray dogs create a nuisance for the human living and they should be shifted to dog shelters. This dichotomy brings to the fore the paradox of importance of human rights vs animal rights!
When a man is attacked by other men, the law prosecutes and punishes the culprits. But when a precious human life is lost due to stray dog attack, who is to blame? Can the culprit dog be dragged to court? It is this aspect that the advocates of animal rights fail to understand.
In some countries like India, stray dog attack is a frequent news but at the same time animal sympathizers feeding the pack of stray dogs in residential areas of the city is a common sight. It often leads to skirmish between the dog feeders and the apartment dwellers.
Recently during my visit to my sister’s home n Mumbai, from nowhere, a dog followed me and bit my calf as soon as I entered the apartment premises. My sister told me that it is a stray dog and the apartment dwellers feed it regularly and they are not allowed to chase it away!
The so-called animal rights activists argue that stray dogs never attack human beings unless they are provoked. But it is far from the truth. I was attacked unprovoked despite being accompanied by my brother in law. There have been incidents of children carrying meat or fish being mauled to death.
There are hundreds of dogs roaming the streets in many cities and the Municipal authorities do not do more than catching the aggressive canine, neutering/vaccinating and then releasing them back in the same place. Even the authorities are not able to catch all the stray dogs as new once from the neighboring areas keep moving.
There are laws that prevent the authorities from eliminating the aggressive stray dogs. There are also people who have a soft corner to the attacking dogs. In such a situation, the victims of stray dog attack and other concerned people feel just helpless in voicing for their human rights.
So the most pertinent question everyone should ask is where do the stray dogs come from? Has it always been their natural habitat?
In the case of wild animals, forest is their natural habitat. But what about dogs? Should dogs be kept as pets or should they be roaming the streets chasing the moving vehicles and demanding food from the passers-by or apartment dwellers?
Stray dogs are a man-made problem. Every stray dog was once someone’s pet that was abandoned.
They now risk being hit by a car, susceptible to disease or other dangers on the street. Furthermore, they can pose a public health and safety risk to communities. They are bad for tourism and the general perception of a community and country. The existence of stray dogs cannot be allowed to perpetuate. The complexity of the problem requires a systemic solution.
There are 3 sources of stray dogs: lost dogs, abandoned dogs and dogs born stray.
One source is a dog that had a home and became lost. Dog owners should ensure that their pets have collars with tags that bear the name and phone number of the owner so as to reunite the lost dog with the owner. Having the dogs microchipped and registered in local or national databases is the effective solution.
Unfortunately, the most common cause is the deliberate abandonment of a dog by its owner. The expatriates sometime abandon their pets being unable to bear the expenses of repatriating the pets when they leave for good. Another reason for abandonment is the unwanted pregnancies of owned female dogs. These pregnancies are the result of female dogs not living in protected environments coming into contact with un-neutered male strays or owned but likewise free-roaming males. In rural areas, the pet owners often drive such extra puppies to a remote location and drop it off so that it can't find its way back home. Municipal trash collection points are common repositories of unwanted puppies.
Dogs Born stray
Many dogs are simply born stray. In most cases, they are first or second generation stray after their parents or grandparents were previously abandoned. Un-neutered female dogs are ‘in heat’ twice per year and, if impregnated, will give birth every six months to an average of seven puppies, depending on their size and breed. One female can therefore produce in average 14 puppies per year. While not every puppy will survive the harsh conditions on the street, the cycle of stray born dogs continues with every dog being abandoned.
There is only one solution: responsible pet ownership.
Owners have a duty to provide sufficient and appropriate care for their pets, microchip and ideally neuter, or prevent from uncontrollable breeding. The care implies owners need to provide the resources such as food, water, shelter, health care and social interaction necessary for an individual pet to maintain an acceptable level of health and well-being in its environment.