In the society we live in, the relationship between dogs and humans is such that, some humans are scared of dogs, and dogs in turn are scared of humans. Some dog haters treat dogs unwell while some Aggressive dogs attack or bite humans. When dogs bother humans, humans express their fear or anger through various means to get rid of those dogs, but what can the voiceless do when they are beaten or thrown stones by human when they are poisoned by humans, when they are separated from their pack or when they are left out of the city where they don’t even get access to water and food? We would have never thought from a dog’s perspective! Not all humans are bad nor all dogs are aggressive. This blog helps you to understand the life of stray dogs, when and why they attack people, remedies to reduce the stray dog population, and how to feed dogs legally.
ALL ABOUT INDIAN STRAY DOGS
Most Indian Stray dogs get their food from the garbage that is created by humans. Dogs live in their pack and they belong to a particular territory. It becomes hard for them if they are shifted to a new territory and to survey without their pack. In a year, female dogs give birth to 6 -10 puppies in every 6 months [however, the frequency of littering depends on the dog’s breed too.]. So, in a year a female dog approximately gives birth to 12 to 20 puppies. The female puppies can reproduce when they attain the age of one year. This is the reason for the growing population of stray dogs in India. To reduce the dog population the ABC program [ Animal Birth Control Program] was developed by WHO [world health organization] with the main purpose of sterilizing stray dogs and providing necessary vaccines [especially rabies]. The government of India has introduced “The Animals Birth Control [Dogs] rules 2001” which directs all municipal corporations and animal welfare organizations to implement the ABC program effectively. “ABC [dogs] Rule 2001 gives complete guidance on animal birth control details
In general, Indian stray dogs are friendly, less aggressive, easily trainable, love their territory, and are protective of their pack. The maintenance cost of Indian stray dogs is also very low compared to foreign breeds. Unfortunately, our Indian stray dogs are not adopted despite the above-mentioned qualities as people are much attracted to foreign breeds. Stray dogs attack humans due to frustration or hunger, to protect their pack, when they are provoked, or sometimes when they become aggressive. Dogs with Rabies disease become aggressive due to their health condition and thus may bite humans. Since 1985, the annual death rate of humans in India by Rabies is 25000-30000 annually. As a result, people are scared of dogs. Dog attacks can be reduced to some extent if the following precautions are followed [these may not work always]
- never have eye contact with any stray dogs
- do not run fast or drive fast in front of dogs
- if a barking or growling dog approach you don’t panic and start running – try to ignore the dog and stand calm and still
- approach a nearby authority if you sense aggressiveness in any stray dog to take immediate action
RELATED CASES OF STRAY DOGS AND FEEDING STRAY DOGS
The case related to the dog menace in Kerala was listed in the supreme court on 9th September 2022 which said it will allow animal rights groups to intervene and the bench will hear them in detail before passing any order on 28 September 2022. The Supreme Court has however said it would like to have a balance between feeding stray dogs along with protecting innocent people from stray dog attacks.
Dr.Maya D.Chablani vs Smt Radha Mittal & Ors.
In this case plaintiff filed an interlocutory application to stop the defendant from feeding the stray dogs near the entrance and exit of the plaintiff’s property. In this case, both parties made an amicable settlement with certain guidelines. The defendant was guided to
- Feed dogs at a specifically designated place and
- The defendant should feed dogs at the time specified in the settlement [ in this case morning from 6.00 -8.00 am and evening7.00 – 10.00 PM]
The order of the Delhi High Court also included that every stray dog/street dog/ community dog has the right to food and in the same way every citizen has the right to feed those dogs. However, one has to take a precaution while feeding the dogs and ensure that feeding does not impinge upon the rights of other people in society by harming them or causing any sort of nuisance or harassment. The order further stated that it is the responsibility of the Resident Welfare Association [RAW], Municipal corporation, and Government authorities including local police to provide assistance and to check no problem is caused to the person who is feeding dogs or caregivers to the community dogs at permitted points.
As mentioned, feeding should be done in a designated place and prescribed time. The area should be designated by the Animal Welfare Board of India in consultation with RAWs of the municipal corporation. As the dog is a territorial animal, the designated place for feeding should be in the same territory and not the other. Apart from designated points for feeding Stray dogs can also be fed at the private entrance, porch, or the driveway of the caretaker’s house which is not shared with other residents and should not create problems for others. Delhi High Court also said “Resident Welfare Association should have an Animal Welfare Committee to ensure compliance with the provision of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act to maintain harmony between feeders and other residents”
MEASURES IMPLEMENTED BY THE NETHERLANDS TO ERADICATE THE PROBLEM OF STRAY DOGS:
The Netherlands had a massive problem with stray dogs in the 19th century and the outbreak of rabies led the owners to abandon their dogs. But today the Netherlands does not have issues with stray dogs, the Netherlands is free from stray dogs after implementing necessary programs, some of the measures adopted by the Netherlands to solve the stray dog problems are:
- CNVR program was a huge success [ collect, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return]. The dogs were first collected, then sterilized and vaccinated, and finally, they were returned to their territory.
- The government-imposed taxes on store-bought dogs and thus encouraged people to adopt stray dogs.
- The Netherlands animal police force, monitors crime against animals. This force is also in charge of rescuing the animals in trouble.
- Punishment with fine and imprisonment
MEASURES INDIA CAN TAKE TO CONTROL STRAY DOG POPULATION AND ATTACKS:
- By adopting stray dogs instead of buying.
- Imposing a heavy tax on foreign breeds.
- Increasing the penalty for killing dogs along with increased years of imprisonment.
- Corruption – finding measures to see funds are properly utilized by local authorities for the ABC program or any other related activities.
- Educating people about the importance of sterilizing dogs and giving them time-to-time vaccines and thus increasing the number of volunteers.
The problem associated with stray dogs are of 2 types. The first is stray dog attacks on humans and the second is the growing population of dogs in the community. The problem of a dog attack can be reduced to some extent by understanding a dog’s behaviour [not running fast, not provoking the dogs, etc] Apart from this, another major reason why many people are scared of stray dogs is the disease ‘rabies’. This disease does not have a treatment and this will result in the death of a person if not pre-vaccinated. The second problem is the increasing population of dogs which can be reduced by conducting the ABC program for Sterilizing and vaccinating dogs. Once the population of stray dogs is under control all the other problems associated with stray dogs will also be in control which in turn contribute to a balanced lifestyle between humans and stray dogs in India.
Author(s) Name: Swaroopa Royadu (Karnataka University, Dharwad)
‘Animal Birth Control’ (People for Animal) <https://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org/animal-birth-control.php> accessed 23 September 2022
Rozario Menezes, ‘Rabies in India’ (2008) 178 (5) CMAJ 564-566 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2244675/#:~:text=In%20India%2C%20about%2015%20million,from%20isolation%20hospitals%20in%201985> accessed 06 October 2022
‘Dog Bite Pevention’ (Sarnath Broucher, 26 January 2015)
<https://helpanimalsindia.org/pdf/Sarnath_Brochure_HIN_ENG.pdf> accessed 06 October 2022
 ‘Supreme Court stresses a Balance between Kindness to stray dogs and Protection from Attacks (The Hindu, 10 September 2022) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-stresses-balance-between-kindness-to-stray-dogs-and-protection-from-attacks/article65872431.ece> accessed 06 October 2022
 Dr. Maya B Chablani v Smt Radha Mittal & Ors (2020) (Civil Suit) No. 277/2020
Saurabh Kapoor ‘Citizens Right to feed Stray Dogs, and the Dogs Right to Food and Water-now backed by Delhi HC and SC’ (The Indian Express, 21 May 2022) <https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/feeding-stray-dogs-court-case-explained-7927909/> accessed 06 October 2022
 Freya Sawbridge, ‘How did The Netherlands become the First Country without Stray Dogs’ (Dutchreview, 27 July 2022) <https://dutchreview.com/culture/how-did-the-netherlands-become-the-first-country-to-have-no-straydogs/#:~:text=The%20Dutch%20achieved%20it%20through,combat%20a%20stray%20dog%20population> accessed 24 September 2022