Are Dogs in India More Deadly than Terrorists?

The title seems like a silly thing to suggest, but there is a lot of truth to the idea according to Indian officials. Not everyone feels that way about the problem in India, however.

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It is not just India. After the Olympics in Russia recently, Russia’s stray dog problem became worldwide news. In a recent statement, Mumbai authorities stated that death by dog bite has claimed more lives in the last twenty years than two devastating terror attacks in India combined. A reported 434 people have died from rabies.

Rabies is preventable and often transmitted through a dog bite. Even still, 1.3 million people were attacked by stray dogs during the same time period and sustained physical injuries.

A Stray Problem

Feral dogs in India are so bad that the highest court is struggling with the best way to take action. There are apparently over 30 million stray dogs in India. In a country of 1.2 billion, that is quite a lot of dogs. According to figures produced by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, India makes up a staggering 35% of rabies cases in the world.

The biggest target for the feral canines is small children. Whether a shortage of food or not, the dogs have returned to their natural state and likely see the children as small animals.

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One child, Mudasir Ahmed Wangnoo (pictured right) was bit a total of 125 times. He was swarmed by around two dozen dogs. They bit his head, neck, and even perforated his heart. Luckily, he survived. Others have not been as lucky. Younger children are particularly susceptible to death after dog bite attacks.

A few months ago, a small boy of four was killed after he was bitten by several feral dogs. He died after becoming infected by rabies.

Efforts to Stop the Problem

The problems with feral dogs have become so bad that some states in India have been ordered to pay victims of dog bites.

In a collective effort, some parts of India have begun sending out teams to find stray dogs to be neutered and spayed. Their efforts have been minimal at first, with a slow start to the process. Some critics remark that the whole program is even falling apart as a result of a lack of funds.

For some, the change has not come fast enough. To handle the feral dog epidemic, citizens are unfortunately taking to violence.  Some dogs that are shot have turned out to be domesticated pets and not strays.

Just last year, a group of villagers in Kerala, India sent out dog catchers to use potassium cyanide to dispose of dogs. In 2012, controversial statements were made by government figureheads. They suggested that the dogs be sent to China and parts of India where dogs are eaten.

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Animal rights groups are frantically campaigning for ethical ways to treat the issue rather than killing the dogs at random. They are using the hashtag #boycottkerala to raise awareness and stop mass culling of stray dogs in India.

Technically, killing dogs is completely illegal in India since 2001. That has not stopped citizens from taking action, unfortunately. This includes government sanctioned killings of the stray dogs. It seems that the law has been irregularly enforced over the years whether due to lack of care or insufficient funds.

Concluding Thoughts

So far, opinions vary greatly on whether the rabies epidemic and feral dog attacks are strictly related. Regardless, feral dogs are a huge issue that is faced by India, Mexico, Russia and a slew of other nations around the world.

The most humane thing is to fix the dogs; however, that problem is proving to be both costly and overwhelming for parts of the world. From pressure from animal rights groups, it will hopefully become the only solution used to control the animals instead of killing them brutally.

 


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