Canine carnage

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Acute conflict Dog catchers are in demand as the public takes the law into its own hands. Photo: Reuters
Acute conflict Dog catchers are in demand as the public takes the law into its own hands. Photo: Reuters

There was an outcry last month when dogs were poisoned in Kerala with cyanide-laced food to control the stray dog population. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organisation in the world, intervened and initiated a campaign against the practice of killing stray dogs in the state.

According to a PETA activist who does not wish to be identified, “Killing stray dogs will not solve the problem. Unless issues of garbage and irresponsible dog lovers are addressed, there will be no solution to the issue.”

However, it is not just a question of dogs scaring people or biting them, making them rush to doctors for anti-rabies injections. Anybody who has seen a child attacked and killed by angry street dogs will not agree that animal rights are more important than human life. In Kerala, more than 150 deaths are reported every year.

Delhi’s strays are no better than Kerala’s in this regard. From January to July this year, as many as 23,855 dog bite cases have been recorded. In 2014, there were a total of 32,128 such cases.

“Since I saw the dead body of Mamum, a seven-year-old boy who was mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs in Okhla [an area in south-west Delhi], I have been so scared that I don’t allow my children to play outside the house on roads and in the parks,” says Rubina Khatoon, 35, in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar.

Rubina, who has two children, adds, “Bites by stray dogs have become a daily routine in our area. Despite several complaints, the number of dogs is rapidly increasing — so is the fear of dogs.” The canine population also seems to be increasing at a more rapid rate than the human population. After every two months, the residents notice new dogs in their area. “We have lodged several complaints with mcd but to no avail. I have never seen a dog-catching squad in my locality,” she rues.

Another resident of Jamia Nagar, Fahad Khan says, “Many residents are now moving out of their houses with sticks in hand in the morning and night hours to ward off stray dogs. Parents don’t allow children to play alone in local parks. Residents are fed up with the constant barking day and night. At times, the dogs even enter our houses.”

On the other hand, the municipal corporation claims that the civic body has picked up 90 dogs from Jamia Nagar for sterilisation and immunisation.

Khan adds, “To ensure that I remain safe from stray dogs, I walk with my leather belt in hand at night to keep myself safe. The dogs also regularly chase two-wheelers in night hours.” Many others in his area echo the same thought: that the stray dog menace is steadily getting worse in the capital city in general.

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