Stray dogs pose threat to locals in Anantnag

Senior citizen, women , children most affected
Aman Malik

Anantnag, July 16: Stray dogs are posing an alarming threat. As per the official reports there are more than 25,000 stray dogs on the streets of Anantnag town alone. Recently there have been so many reports of dogs mauling infants, attacking children and commuters. Senior citizen, women folk and children have been the worst affected.
In addition to frequent reporting by the regional mainstream media, people from all walks of life have often resorted to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to express their concerns but unconcerned authorities don’t even bat an eye. As per a report there have been around 3000 cases of dog bites in last one year. Despite tall claims by the Government authorities and Municipal Committee Anantnag, the population of stray dogs in the city is only getting thicker.
The problem of increasing stray dog population is not something unique with Anantnag. What is unique is our inability to manage this problem professionally. Worldwide countries facing canine terror usually go for three approaches to control the menace – sheltering, killing and sterilization. Although, MCA did announce a major sterilization program some years back but the output has been very dismal. Instead of using a single approach, we should rather adopt combination of various techniques to overcome this menace.
In many European and western countries the option of sheltering is used very effectively. In these financially sound regions, a range of NGOs working for animal welfare and rehabilitation also act as a unique model for containing stray dog population. However, sheltering is very costly technique involving outlay of a substantial amount of money and resources. Given the economic condition of our state where quality medical care for even humans is still a distant dream, it’s not realistic to shelter half a lac stray dogs effectively and on a sustainable basis.
Secondly, killing might seem as a solution but it certainly is not the most humane, easy or efficient way of dealing with this problem. There are legal hindrances for using this route of stray dog population management. Usually, MCA resorts to killing of dogs by poisoning, which is totally cruel and a very painful way of resolving the problem. Moreover, it also puts other animals and humans, especially children, at risk of infection as the carcass remains in contact with air and water for a while. Therefore, from humanitarian and legal point of view, killing stray dogs is not a sustainable solution and in a third world country like ours the animal rights activist would make it almost impossible to implement.
Finally, we are left with the option of sterilization, a method widely used around the world with very good results. As per a research, a single female and her offsprings can reproduce up to 55000 puppies in a span of 6 years. Given their high reproduction rate, it becomes extremely essential to restrict their ability to produce more and more offspring. These dogs need to be sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and other infections and finally, returned to the same place where they were caught. Because of their territorial nature these dogs will keep outsider dogs away from their territory making it easier for authorities to filter the vaccinated from the non-vaccinated ones. In this way the number of animals will decrease slowly but surely at the rate of natural mortality. The only challenge that remains for this plan is the under capacity in terms of professionals and medical facilities in our state to handle sterilization of such a huge population of stray dogs. State Government can explore the option of outsourcing the job to a third party before the problem consumes more lives in the town.
There can be so many indirect ways also to overcome this problem. We as responsible citizen also need to do proper waste management in order to eliminate any chance of feeding the stray dogs on the garbage. The authorities also need to show some seriousness and take some immediate steps to make this city beautiful and safe again from this canine terror.