It is a frightening sight to see pack of dogs on the prowl in streets of city and villages across Kashmir Valley. Despite lockdown amid covid-19 and even tougher clampdown post abrogation of special status last year leading to the reduction of availability of energy rich food, the number of the canines seems to be only growing. It rather debunks calls by some experts who voiced concern against culling and called for reducing availability of the energy rich food to reduce the numbers.
Every year, hundreds of people are bitten by dogs. Around 98% of rabies cases are due to dog bites globally, about 40 percent of the victims being children, according to the World Health Organization, which has announced a campaign to reduce human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies across the globe to zero by 2030.
For rabies, the link is direct. Wherever there are people, there are dogs. If dogs are suffering and dying from rabies, humans will also suffer and die. Dogs also contribute to deaths involving road accidents.
The dog population has grown rather than reduced in the Kashmir in recent past, notwithstanding some surveys which restricted their domain to a few areas of Srinagar.
The Supreme Court, in connection with the canine problem in Kerala and Mumbai, had observed that though culling of stray dogs was permissible, there has to be a balance and a proper method for this.
The J&K High court had directed increasing the animal birth control measures to curb the menace. Subsequently, the government set up two centers for the purpose—one at Shuhama and the other at Tengpora. The objective of the centers was controlled birth of dogs. The government had said that there would be a total of 90 sterilizations per day.
Based on the estimation of 300 working days, approximately 27000 sterilization was to be carried out in a year. However, the results never turned out to be at par with the desired objective. In contrast, stray dogs have only grown in number. There is no word about it recently and in all probability it seems the process has been halted. There is a need to get serious on the issue. It seems animal birth control measures have proven ineffective. True, the dogs are needed for scavenging but the numbers are huge. For example, around five thousand dogs are needed as per the experts in Srinagar city for scavenging but its canine population is far greater and a huge threat to people. Rural areas are also similarly placed.