Debate: Dealing with stray dog menace

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Discussion: Stray dogs must be sterilised while those that are very sick should be humanely and painlessly euthanised

Dogs have the right to space and life

Vasanthi Vadi, founder secretary, People for Animals

As an animal lover and freethinker, I believe that animals too have the right to space and resources bestowed upon us by mother earth. As such, I would call all dogs living on their own without human parents as ‘free dogs’, rather than strays or street dogs.

The common comp-laint is that there are too many dogs on the streets. They bite, ca-use rabies and sleepless nights, and chase vehicles. It is alleged that animal rights activists are stopping the GHMC from killing dogs, which results in over breeding and problems for humans. Some have come out with a simple solution — kill all dogs that have no human parents.

However, the ground reality is that the dog population is directly proportional to the human population in a city and the garbage they generate. It is possible to estimate the number of dogs in a city given its population. A rou-gh thumb rule is that if a city is relatively clean, every 40 people will support one dog and if not clean, there will be one dog for every 30 people.

Where there is food (uncleared garbage) on the streets, there will be dogs/rats etc. to eat them. If with the help of a genie, all stray dogs were eliminated from our city at one go, as long as food exists, dogs from surrounding ar-eas will come into the city within days. Some may even carry rabies.

If killing dogs was a solution to controlling the dog population (we have been killing dogs for about 100 years), then there shouldn’t be a single dog on the streets today. This, however, hasn’t happened. Ins-tead municipal budgets for killing go on increasing with the rise in the city population and cases of rabies go unabated.

The only scientific and workable solution is to adopt the WHO-suggested ABC-AR programme and implement it in letter and spirit. The Indi-an government, thro-ugh its Gazette notification in 2001, has made it mandatory for government bodies to stop killing str-ay dogs and adopt the above programme.
This was done after extensive study of the above project and its success in other countries. What is the ABC-AR programme? It stands for Animal Birth Control and Anti Rabies programme. This entails the following steps.

Divide a city into circular zones moving inward from outward. Take a census of the dog population in a given area. Crea-te awareness about the project and invo-lve the human stakeholders of the area to catch the strays.

Once that is done, sterilise them and va-ccinate them with the anti-rabies vaccine. When they recover from the surgical ope-ration, release them into the same locality from where they are caught. Out of the dogs caught, the very sick or highly aggressive ones, as decided by the vets, must be humanely and painlessly euthanised.

This will result in the following:

As the dogs in the area are sterilised, there won’t be any more pups, thereby controlling the population. Being protected, there won’t be any cases of rabies. Being sterilised, the dogs become calm and cha-sing of vehicles and people is reduced.

Dogs being territorial in nature will not allow any new dogs into their area. This programme works and we have many a citizen who vouch for it. The success of this project depends on two things. One, the involvement of the stakeholders and the second is the implementation of this project exactly as it is meant to be.

GHMC duty-bound to deal with strays

Dr P. Venkateshwar Reddy, chief veterinary officer, GHMC

I agree that all stray dogs are not mad dogs. But if a dog is creating problems, the civic body is duty bound to protect the life and health of citizens.

The veterinary wing of the Greater Hyderabad Munic-ipal Corporation (GHMC) takes necessary action whenever people complain to us about the dog menace.

The problem of stray dogs is partly due to people violating civic norms and throwing food onto streets and open grounds.

There are several instances of people encouraging stray dogs for their safety from thieves and robbers.

People feed stray dogs in slum areas as well. Sometimes, they leave the food in the open and this attracts stray dogs.

In cases where parents go away to work and leave their children at home, the kids often eat outside the house, due to which there have been instances of stray dogs coming for the food and, in the melee, the child or children getting injured.

All dogs, be it stray or domestic pets, should be sterilised, vaccinated and de-wormed. Though we are not their enemies, we are duty-bound to maintain sanitation and ensure the health of people.
The residents also have a responsibility of keeping the GHMC informed about stray dogs in their colonies that visibly suffer from skin diseases or behave abnormally or ferociously.

Dogs usually bite when they get excited, startled by sudden movements and loud noises. If a dog has a high probability of having rabies, it would be isolated until it dies a natural death. Death normally occurs within 10 days of contracting rabies.

Premature killing of suspected rabid dogs prevents the true incidence of rabies from being known and appropriate action being initiated.

We, at the GHMC, classify dogs into pet dogs, street dogs and breeders. Mostly, children, students, morning walkers and riders of two-wheelers are vulnerable to dog bites. Rabies is a fatal disease transmitted to human beings though dog bites.

The terminally ill, very ferocious, and apparently rabid dogs are being euthanised. The cost of vaccinating dogs against rabies is far less than the cost of post-bite vaccine for human beings.
Under the ABC-AR programme (AWBI) rules, the dog squad is catching stray dogs from the wards and sterilising them for animal birth control, deworming and vaccination against rabies.

After the surgical wound heals the dogs are released into their respective areas by making a ‘v’-shaped ear notch for identification.

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