In 2001, India passed a law banning the killing of dogs. Before you say, “Aw, puppies!” you should know this: there are now tens of millions of stray dogs in India, 80,000 people in the city of Mumbai were attacked last year, and 20,000 people a year are dying of rabies thanks to dog bites.
This isn’t good news. Here’s what the New York Times said about the dog problem in India today:
Packs of strays lurk in public parks, guard alleyways and street corners and howl nightly in neighborhoods and villages. Joggers carry bamboo rods to beat them away, and bicyclists fill their pockets with stones to throw at chasers. Walking a pet dog here can be akin to swimming with sharks.
India has become the global center for rabies thanks to the stray dogs. Many appreciate the dogs because they keep the rat and other rodent population down, but clearly the health of the human population has to be taken into consideration as well.
Ironically, the popularity of owning pet dogs is growing in India – something that is relatively new there – but it is so unsafe to walk your dog in the streets thanks to attacks from strays that pet adoption is challenging. Plus, just as with pet ownership here, many of those dogs end up on the street because dog ownership isn’t all that easy.
There have been large movements to sterilize the stray dogs, but that’s had challenges as well. More from the New York Times:
“People really don’t want us to take the street dogs away, particularly in poor areas,” said Dr. Jack Reece, a Jaipur veterinarian who helped lead the city’s effort. “In other areas, especially Muslim ones, they won’t let us release the dogs back. I have been surrounded by large crowds, angry young men, saying you can’t release the dogs here, even though they were caught from there two days before.”
Some have, apparently, suggested sending the dogs to China or South Korea where they are eaten by some groups. That hardly seems like a solution, either. Here’s hoping that India finds a solution that protects its population while helping the dogs.