Infected by the Indian proclivity for procreation and
rapid proliferation, the stray dogs hereabouts find their population has soared
to a dangerous level posing a threat to themselves and public safety. We all
know this. Eyes goggling with horror, we watch CCTV footage of a 4-year-old in
Hyderabad who was mauled to death by stray dogs in the parking lot of a housing
society. Tutting in outrage, we read about the infant in a Rajasthan Hospital,
who was carried away by strays of the canine persuasion. We all know these news
stories represent a mere fraction of incidents pertaining to dog attacks.
Because, it is routine, for lean and mean street dogs to chase or bite the
unwary in India, the rabies capital of the world. Even so, none of us can be
bothered with addressing this very preventable menace. Instead, we are content to
express our dissatisfaction of social media before stepping out of our homes
for a bracing walk, with a vague prayer on our lips and hope in our hearts,
that we won’t be the ones who are attacked by a stray, hit by a truck, raped,
robbed, or shat on by winged terrors like crows and pigeons. These things
always happen to someone else, the unfortunates who wind up as sordid
statistics, splashed across the news.
It is why we look the other way, when stray cattle
prowl our roads causing road accidents and claiming the lives of hundreds, when
they are not loading up on carelessly disposed plastic and garbage. Of course, we
explain away this unacceptable scenario by telling ourselves that cows are
sacred to Hindus, although we know that there is nothing in the Shastras
explicitly telling us to let all things bovine traipse boisterously across the
highways in a manner that can only be described as criminally negligent.
Besides cows and drunk drivers are not the only dangerous things on the roads. We
have stray dogs, runaway pigs, and the odd hobbled horse too! Why are we not
doing anything about this?
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) and Animal
Birth Control (ABC) Acts don’t do much to prevent cruelty to animals or curb
untrammelled breeding among strays. Similarly the increasing instances of Cow
Vigilantism and rigidly enforced Cattle Protection laws which have criminalized
Cow slaughter have only served to exacerbate the problem. It is high time this
crisis in addition to being merely acknowledged needs to be tackled using a
more practical approach.
Animal birth control measures need to be properly
managed. Pet owners who abandon their pets and those guilty of mistreating
animals must be pulled up and made to pay hefty fines. More animals and
gaushalas need to be established, staffed with vets, volunteers and trained
personnel committed to the job so that strays may be gathered up, fed, cared
for if they are sick or crippled and spayed. Perhaps this way, our roads and
public spaces will be marginally safer, and we might even successfully
This article originally appeared in The New Indian Express Magazine.