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Stray dogs a huge problem in Indian cities

April 6, 2007

Over the last month or so there has been a debate raging in this country over the killing of stray dogs. Two children were mauled to death in Bangalore and more recently a nine month old baby in Chennai suffered the same fate.

Municipal corporations have been lax in controlling the stray dog population. In Bangalore dogs had increased to 100,000, mainly due to open garbage dumps which were not cleared on time, giving unlimited food to the dogs. After the deaths of the kids the BMC started a mass killing operation and frankly the methods used to cull the dogs were ghastly, sickening and cruel and this has made me question as to whether it’s worth going this way. This led to protests by animal lovers.

I can’t stand it to see animals being treated in this inhumane way, but at the same time it is absolutely horrifying that our little babies and children are falling victims. Desperate measures of the Bangalore municipal corporation were more to quieten public anger rather than actually solve the problem. A problem which will raise its head again because whether Bangalore or Mumbai or Chennai, municipal corporations are not keeping our cities clean and they are not taking sterilisation of dogs seriously.

Letting the stray dog population multiply is stupid and dangerous. Dogs are not cows. They do not eat grass. Nor are they giraffes. The dog is related to the wolf. We may have domesticated the dog, and cats as well, but both these animals are fierce in the wild. If they are allowed to roam free to forage on raw meat lying in open garbage dumps, what do you think will happen if they don’t get their daily meat?

True, its a rare dog that turns into a killer…at the worst dogs will bark and snarl…but snarling dogs in a pack can terrify any human being. I would not like to be in their path.

Inspite of this, municipal corporations do not take the problem seriously. Open garbage dumps are everywhere and the lack of will in sterilising dogs persists. That picture above is one I took just a few days ago, in a good locality, on a main road, near the Bandra flyover. It didn’t even look like a garbage dump, just some garbage thrown carelessly on the road. People are secure in the belief that no one is going to catch them. I wonder what happened to Mumbai’s campaign to stop littering? They were supposed to have become strict, all in the hope of turning Mumbai into Shanghai no signs of that now!

But one wants clean cities not just so that we can look as glossy as Shanghai or New York, but because we want safety and hygeine for our citizens.

I was surprised to read that none other than Mahatma Gandhi felt that was inhuman to let the stray dog population multiply. I got this quote of Gandhiji’s from the site

A roving dog without an owner is a danger to society and a swarm of them is a menace to its very existence…. If we want to keep dogs in towns or villages in a decent manner no dog should be suffered to wander. There should be no stray dogs even as we have no stray cattle…. But can we take individual charge of these roving dogs? Can we have a pinjrapole for them? If both these things are impossible then there seems to me no alternative except to kill them…it is an insult to the starving dog to throw a crumb at him. Roving dogs do not indicate compassion and civilization in society; they betray instead the ignorance and lethargy of its members…that means we should keep them and treat them with respect as we do our companions and not allow them to roam about.”

I wonder what Gandhiji would say if he were alive today and saw the state of our garbage dumps. And what he would say if he saw dogs, crows and rodents swarming around the garbage?

Update: A cleanliness survey commissioned by Hindustan Lever Ltd, and conducted by AC Nielsen ORG MARG, based on the satisfaction that people feel with their cities showed that Mumbai was at the bottom of the list. 100 points was taken to be average. People in Chandigarh rated their city the highest (144 points) and in fact those who have traveled there tell me that Chandigarh is indeed a clean city. Chennai came second (118 points), followed by Kolkata and Bangalore (108 points). Mumbai and Delhi both got 99 points which were the lowest scores. People rated their cities on parameters like purity of drinking water, cleanliness in public places, level of air pollution and condition of public toilets.

Well, I am surprised that Mumbai scored even 99. Some parts of Mumbai would score 150 I guess and others maybe 50! I guess if one takes the average, it could perhaps work out to be somewhere around 99!

Related Reading: On the moral question of culling stray dogs with a perspective from other countries.
The Indian House Crow is a declared pest in some countries and is culled on sight
Large animals were slaughtered in most parts of the world in ancient times
Tigers in India down to a thousand??
The vanishing sparrows of the world

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2007 9:29 pm

    Nita – in my neighbourhood, a couple of years ago, a 4 year old boy was mauled to death by a couple of Rottweilers as his mother lay sleeping in the next room. These were family pets, well cared for and well fed. There is a fashion here among certain members of the population to keep attack dogs for pets. These are feared by the general population. There are stringent laws regarding dogs, here in Canada – dogs are not allowed to run free and roam about in packs (which is when they can become dangerous). It must be saddening and frustrating to see dogs becoming feral in India, and even more so the brutal putting them to death to witness. Dogs are wonderful companion animals – it seems cruel to let them breed indiscriminately and live by scrounging garbage. I agree with Gandhi’s sentiments – he was speaking from a point of regard for this other species.

  2. April 7, 2007 9:01 am

    cleaning the city does not get as many votes as culling dogs does..
    so no wonder we are a country of screwed priorities

  3. SHERLY permalink
    July 16, 2007 11:57 am

    Accidents regarding dogs occur mostly due to human interference. Lets not forget that v r the 1 interferring in the life of strays. They hav the right to live as much as we do!!!

  4. aster permalink
    July 31, 2011 1:11 am

    leave the poor stray dogs alone!!!There are much more serious issues waiting to be addressed like rape of kids/women, terrorism, murders, drug abuse, hunger, poverty..what have we done for it so far???Its not the STRAY DOGS who rape small kids or spread terrorism and infact more kids die every year of malnutrition than being bitten by stray dogs..So please live and let live, if you believe in Karma.These animals own this earth as much as we humans do…so pleeeeeeeease..let them live!

  5. varsha permalink
    September 26, 2011 10:38 am

    if each one of us take initiative to support the ABC / Sterlization programme , the stray dog problem can be tackled.I have got sterilized almost all the dog in my locality and believe me it has made a difference.

  6. sacha permalink
    April 22, 2012 8:50 am


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