03 May 2009

My hair-raising encounter with stray dogs in Delhi

The stray dogs in Indian cities are very aggressive. They think they own the cities where they live, especially at night.

Many citizens hesitate to venture out at night for fear of the strays. I myself have experienced this in Delhi which has perhaps as many strays as there are Delhities. We were returning home after visiting the Taj in Agra and it was near midnight. The city was aspleep. The bus dropped us near our home and there was just a short walk. We had with us a couple of small children. Suddenly the strays surrounded us menacingly, several of them, huge shaggy beasts with glistening teeth. We were terrified. Luckly, our shouts of fear aroused a watchman of a society who came to our aid with his lathi. If he hadn't turned up at the right moment, I shudder to think about what would have happened to us on that night.

I remember another incident of my childhood days. A cow had given birth on the streets in Lucknow, but even before the calf had emerged properly, it had been bitten to death by a gang of strays.

In Ahmedabad where I live now, we have similar stray problem. When it turns dark, the strays take over the roads and chase any two-wheeler that passes them. This has often lead to accidents in which people have been grievously injured.

In the society in which we live, a bitch has taken residence and has given birth to a litter of puppies. They look cute when they are young, but as they grow bigger, they become aggressive and bite children, who can then die of rabies.

More pitiably, the puppies are so dumb that they get easily get run over by the cars in the society when they are shunted for parking. And it can be traumatic for small children to witness such violent death right in their societies.

So there is no wisdom in feeding strays or encouraging them. The city is not the place for animals. It is for human beings, primarily.

True city people can get nostalgic about animals. They should visit wilderness areas or zoos to get over their nostalgia. It is neither kindness nor pragmatism to encourage stray animals in cities, whether they be dogs, cats, cows, pigs or any other domestic animals. Unfortunately Indian cities are overrun with all these and more.

It has a lot to do with notions of misplaced kindness that some people have for animals. There is a lady in Ahmedabad who thinks it is kind to feed stray dogs. Her house always has half a dozen of these beasts hanging around in the hope of getting free morsels. In the end her exasperated neighbours gathered together one night with strong sticks and beat all the dogs they could lay their hands on to death. But they couldn't finish the task for the lady got up on hearing the howls of the canines and kicked up a fuss and even brought the police in.

In yet another incident a group of youngsters were chased by dogs while they were riding by on motor-cycles. They back in a car and ran over the dogs again and again till their bodies were reduced to a bloody pulp. They were later arrested for cruelty to animals.

Some people advocate that the dogs in the cities should be neutered. But in cash-strapped societies like India this is hardly a solution. Neutering a dog costs about a thousand rupees.

I have a friend who is an animal expert. He tells me that neutering strays is hardly an effective strategy. There are so many dogs to be neutered and there are so few resources, and if you don't neuter them all, the entire program fails, because non-neutered dogs quickly replace the neutered ones and soon begin to breed again.

The best way to control strays is proper garbage management. The dogs subsist on garbage. If the garbage is properly disposed, they won't have anything to eat and there would be no dogs either. But Indian cities have a long way to go before they can manage their garbage properly.

Or should we promote export of dog meat to countries like China, Taiwan and Thailand? It could kill two birds with one stone -- it could earn us foreign exchange and also solve our stray dog problem!


हिन्दी ब्लॉग टिप्सः तीन कॉलम वाली टेम्पलेट