Saving animals

November 20, 2022

Instead of killing stray dogs, the authorities should build animal shelters

Saving animals


ne of the worst things that can happen to a person is belonging to a vulnerable section of the society. There is little hope. It is worse for an animal and the strays are extremely unlucky. The country has been unable to solve the problem of stray dogs. Now there are thousands of cats in every town.

Many scorn those trying to do anything to help the stray animals, saying that they should first address the plight of vulnerable humans. Nobody is stopping anybody from simultaneously promoting the rights of both humans and animals; it is not an either/ or option.

The authorities are clueless. They wake up from their slumber once a rabid dog bites somebody or feral dogs kill a child. As this does not happen very often, the slumber is often long.

The absence of anti-rabies vaccine becomes an issue in the event of a rabid attack but the concerned authorities have done nothing that may be called a long-term solution. Dogs do not become rabid by choice; they die of the disease if not killed earlier. The relevant authorities, instead of doing anything for the stray dogs, choose the easy way: kill them by either poisoning or shooting them. This is like killing people if a murder takes place in some area. It is obviously ridiculous and unjust.

Killing stray animals is not a solution to the problem. Civilised societies build shelters for these animals and encourage people to adopt them. It has been said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats animals.

Rabies has been all but eliminated in the West not by killing dogs but by caring for them. All that a dog requires is an inexpensive anti-rabies shot annually. The number of stray dogs can be reduced by getting the females neutered; the populations dwindle within a few years. Castrating male dogs may be easier but treating the females is a surer bet.

People should be encouraged to adopt stray dogs and cats. They are as pleasant friends as any pedigreed ones and grateful in their own way. This also saves one the money spent on purchasing pedigreed animals.

The authorities choose the easy way: kill all of the stray dogs by either poisoning or shooting them. This is like killing people if a murder takes place in some area.

All animals have rights: the right to freedom from hunger and malnutrition; freedom from physical discomfort and pain; freedom from injury and diseases; freedom from fear and distress; and freedom to express their behavioural needs. They have feelings and cannot be asked to wait till all the humans get their rights.

Some people are always throwing stones at strays. This makes the animals extremely distressed and unhappy. They do not even know the reason for the ill treatment.

Municipal authorities should establish shelters for stray animals. People feeling for the animals and respecting their rights should be encouraged to get involved in looking after such shelters. This is not a very expensive proposition.

This is much better than shooting stray dogs or giving them poisonous meals that result in extremely painful deaths.

Stray dogs deserve a better treatment and our children better role models. We should teach our children to be nice and merciful towards the unfortunate, whether they are humans or animals, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. Otherwise, we will be living in a society we cannot be proud of.

Catch-and-kill strategies have not permanently solved the stray dog problem anywhere in the world. These are incredibly ineffective. Clearing an area of strays creates a population vacuum. According to multiple stray overpopulation research studies, these population holes attract strays from surrounding areas who quickly repopulate it.

In fact, the vacuum effect follows a culling can result in the area becoming more densely populated with strays. A single breeding pair is all it takes to replenish the stray population. Availability of unexploited food resources increases the strays‘ breeding success.

In contrast, neuter-vaccinate-and-shelter strategies have resulted in a reduction of the unsupervised dog populations in six years to less than 10 percent of the starting level in some areas. Statistical studies indicate that for reliable control of a stray population, a 70 percent sterilisation rate is needed. Once the 70 percent threshold is reached the probability of an unsterilised female coming into contact with an unsterilised male is sufficiently small to keep the population stable.

The writer is  Advocate Supreme Court.

Saving animals