Yes, there are many street dogs in India and controlling them is a problem. This is a very controversial topic but an important one too. Unless we know why there are so many street dogs in India, we cannot curb their population in an ethical manner.
When we talk about street dogs in India, people are poles apart in their views of dealing with the situation. Let us first look at why we have a high number of street dogs in India and only then can we find a solution to help our nation.
Why Are There So Many Street Dogs In India?
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018, there are about 35 million street dogs in India.
The numbers are high and the reason for their dense population is gaping right in front of us – food, garbage, litter, whatever we like to call it, it’s everywhere! Another study conducted by the CSR journal in 2018 showed that about 40% of India’s produce is wasted and thrown off as garbage.
Another reason for their growing population is their ability to recuperate at lighting speed. A female dog goes into heat within 6-8 months and she can have a litter of 4-6 puppies twice a year. Male dogs gain maturity within 10 months. So, if we do not sterilise our street dogs, their numbers can shoot in just a span of months.
Indian street dogs are born from natural selection. This means that they are very sturdy animals. They can digest just about anything and thrive in environments with a small human population.
Where there’s a man, there’s man’s best friend. But, unfortunately, we don’t see them as our best friend. We call them a menace, an outbreak, a disease when they are actually freeing our country of rotting edible waste.
How Do We Reduce The Number Of Strays
In order to co-exist with our canine counterparts, we need to reduce their population drastically. When a locality is densely populated with street dogs, the violence against street dogs increases. This makes them very suspicious of humans and they attack anytime they feel provoked.
This is why it is important to keep their population under control. Here are some ways to control their population:
1. Spay & Neuter
As we said above the second most common reason for their increasing population is their ability to recuperate at an alarming rate. So, naturally, the best way to reduce their population would be to spay and neuter them on time.
It’s ideal to spay female dogs before their first heat, and male dogs before they reach puberty. This way we can avoid any unwanted pregnancies. We cannot spay a pregnant/lactating mother, so, it’s always best to spay and neuter dogs before they gain maturity.
Why Spay And Not Kill?
Yes, many do ask that question. Spaying a dog costs at least 1000Rs, so why even bother? Simply because, if you kill a dog, another will take its place. Unless we have India’s open garbage situation under control, we cannot eradicate the stray population for good.
If we sterilise dogs and leave them back in their territory, they are going to be calmer. Males produce less testosterone and therefore are less aggressive.
Sterile dogs live longer because they are less likely to get reproductive cancer. Dogs become less aggressive with age. They are also less likely to attack when they trust their environment. By killing dogs we only make matters worse. New dogs occupy the same territory and are far more likely to behave aggressively to guard their newfound territory.
2. Vaccinate Stray Dogs
This will not directly help in culling the stray population however it does help to vaccinate strays. They will be healthy and less aggressive. They will live longer and are less likely to allow more dogs to enter the area. It is always ideal to have dogs growing old in a single area as opposed to getting newer, younger and potentially aggressive dogs coming to a new area.
Timely vaccinations will ensure that dogs stay in good health and live long in their respected areas.
3. Adopt A Streetie
Here’s something that benefits both you and your dog. Recently, the Police force in Uttarakhand inducted 6 street born dogs in their training and saw that our very own street dogs outperformed many western breeds in terms of strength, stability and intelligence.
If you are planning to get a dog, consider adopting a streetie. They are just as good ar as any other breed and they make excellent pets. After getting them home, vaccinate and sterilise them as you would with any other dog. This will keep them healthy and reduce the chances of unwanted pregnancies.
Even by adopting one dog you make a huge difference. Not only do you give that dog a good life but you also inspire others to do the same.
4. Reduce Open Waste Garbages
Lastly, we can spay and vaccinate dogs as much as we want, but if we do not reduce the number of open garbages in India, we just cannot control the number of dogs in our area.
Those who say that India should not have street dogs just like western countries should also take into consideration that there are no open garbages in western countries as well. Less population, less garbage and fewer strays. It is as simple as that. If we do not reduce our population and our methods of waste disposal we cannot complain about the increasing number of strays.
Stray dogs live near human waste products because we dispose of a high number of edible waste. If we find better ways to dispose of our waste we will automatically reduce the number of dogs living on our streets.
There is a lot of politics that goes into the methods of garbage disposal, and as an individual, it might be difficult for you to single-handedly reduce waste. We can, however, reduce the amount of waste that goes out of your homes and consume lesser products that produce a lot of waste. That way we can automatically reduce the number of solid wastes that collect in open garbages.
There are a few simple ways that help you reduce the amount of waste you produce in your surrounding environment. Firstly, don’t throw away something that can be recycled. Avoid eating in fast food joints. Fast food places use a high amount of plastics and disposable solid waste products, reducing consumption will automatically reduce waste production.
Lastly, avoid purchasing products that have a lot of packaging – particularly plastic packaging. Certain edibles are individually packed in a plastic wrapper followed by a cardboard box. Most toothpaste companies, for example, use a cardboard case even when the toothpaste is secure in a tube. Avoid products like these.
Some of these simple steps mentioned above will change the way we produce waste and will inadvertently curb our stray population.
Hitting, maiming and killing these dogs will not solve the problem. It will make matters worse. In places where people are hostile towards dogs, the dogs are suspicious towards people and are likely to show aggressive behaviour. In places where people are loving and kind towards strays, the strays are also kind towards the people.
Our strays are not going anytime soon, so might as well learn to co-exist with them in peace. After all, they are not trying to hurt us. So, why should we hurt them?