The tragic death of a five year old girl because of being attacked by a pack of stray dogs once again brings up the debate of the stray dog issue.
I would like to point out what the stray dog issue is about and what it is not.
1.This is not animal welfare activists vs the rest of the public.
It is so easy to point fingers at people who work for animals and blame them for incidents like this one. Officials have pointed out that if they kill stray dogs animal activists will be up in arms. The fact is that animal welfare NGO’s who are doing the ABC program sterilize healthy dogs as well as euthanize dogs who are unfit. These include rabid, old, aggressive and otherwise infirm dogs. Needless killing of healthy animals is unethical by any standards, not just an animal lovers.
2.This is not about mass killing of all dogs.
Mass killing is not one of the standards by which we define a civilized society. As a society that is getting increasingly scientific and developed in its outlook, this form of culling is from the dark ages. Also as humans, where the is our humanity? Eliminating a species is unscientific and barbaric.
3.This is about a scientific method to tackle the dog population.
When the BMP electrocuted and killed the dogs, the population did not decrease because a vacuum in nature will be filled up as long as there is a food source to sustain a life form. These dogs who are called strays are in fact indigenous Indian dogs. They are part of the balance of nature. They have a role to play, that of the scavenger. Thus, by sterilizing them and vaccinating them along with euthanizing unfit dogs, the best possible balance is being struck. The population has come down after the ABC program as been implemented.
4. This is not about Bangalore becoming the USA or Singapore.
Media reports say that the stray dog problem does not exist in the USA and Singapore. Neither do street children, beggars, garbage, illegal pavement structures, traffic problems, pollution caused by humans etc.
5.This is about systematically clearing garbage.
A comment by Ms Vatsala Dhananjay said that garbage is not the problem as it cannot kill anyone. Infact garbage is the problem. It is a health and hygiene problem. It is a breeding ground for disease. It points fingers at a city that totally lacks civic sense. The lesser the garbage, the lesser the chances of incidents like these occurring.
6. This is about educating the public.
It is all too easy to create mass hysteria. This hysteria clouds rational thinking and actions based on such reactions will always be a cause for regret. Schools, residents associations, and the public must be educated on the ABC program, rabies, stray dogs, do’s and don’ts.
7.This is about regulating breeding.
Breeders indiscriminately allow dogs to have litters and abandon those who they find unfit as well as abandon the male and female dogs once they are too old or unhealthy to breed. These dogs are left to fend for themselves on roads, adding to the population.
8. This is about a need to develop vaccinations to counter rabies.
Just as we will not kill every human being for being potential HIV, hepatitis, TB and polio carriers, but rather work towards a vaccination to eliminate the virus, so too should we work towards eradicating the rabies virus just as we eradicated the smallpox virus. All warm blooded species can carry the rabies virus, if we begin to kill one species, where will we end? Mass vaccination drives, cheap rabies vaccinations easily available is the solution.
We speak so much of Gandhigiri, we want to believe in non violence and we as people who practice it. Where is our Gandhigiri if we react with violence? We co exist with the animals around us. Trying to eliminate a species is never a solution not by any measure scientific or compassionate. We consider ourselves a superior species. We wont prove it by being the school bully. Let is show it by doing what is best for both-humans and animals.