By Aarti Mangal
News of a group of dogs attacking a kid left me trembling once again. Fortunately, the kid was rescued on time and has been saved. But how many lives do we have to lose to this? No, I am not a dog hater but every time I cross a road inhabited by more than five dogs or crossing by-lanes having dogs as pet scares me. Getting scared by a pack of dogs is not phobia but a genuine fear. This is the fear of being chased and mauled by group of dogs, a phenomenon which is not rare in India.
Since the time I have started noticing the incidents of dog attacks and killing, each month at least one such incident gets reported. In 2018, street dogs mauled and killed 13 children, while many others were injured in Sitapur district of Lucknow. Similarly, in 2016, dogs attacked at least 10 people in just 4 days in Kerala while a woman was killed by them. According to one of the reports of 2016, more people are killed in India due to dog attacks than the terror attack. Civic authorities in Mumbai made a claim that more people are killed in Mumbai of dog bite than the two terror attacks – 1993 serial blasts and 26/11 attack in 2008 – in the city. In 2015, a study conducted in Kerala hospitals revealed that 75% of the dog attack patients are bitten by pet dogs. Similarly, a study conducted in 13 schools of Tamil Nadu in 2013 found that the more than half of the dog attacks had been caused by pet dogs. However, the Mumbai municipality in its ‘dog nuisance report’ claimed that it has recorded nearly 100,000 complaints about free-roaming dogs from the citizens between 1994 and 2015. According to news report in April this year, in Punjab the dog menace has exacerbated to such level that every day around 300 cases of dog bites were reported. In 2017 and 2018, the reported cases of dog bites in Punjab were 1, 12,000 and 1,13,000 respectively. According to the state’s hospital record 50 percent of dog bite victims are children. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare maintained that between April 2016 and August 2017 each day nearly 28 people are killed by animals. Out of this 80 percent of the deaths were caused by dog bites. India has around 30 million stray dogs and 17 million reported dog bites each year. According to a report by World Health Organisation in 2014, each year nearly 20,000 people in country die out of rabies.
Whether these are stray dogs or pet dogs, the dog menace exists. A lobby of animal lovers would prove otherwise in order to protect dogs but in the wake of existing dog attacks the cost of it could be huge. How would those who have lost their dear ones to dog attacks reconcile the fact that dogs are given more prominence than human life? It is time that we acknowledge the problem and try to focus on the solution. The mass-sterilization programmes for stray dogs are sporadic. Only in Jaipur and Sikkim the mass sterilization programme has been successful. Dogs are not vaccinated and spayed; their growing population is dangerous for human habitations. One should love all kinds but it needs to be applied with wisdom. Since they pose danger to human beings, leopards and tigers cannot be allowed to roam in human habitations. Leopards and dogs are not similar in their nature, however, the number of killing by dogs shows that dogs can be deadly. I don’t know how dog lovers would react to it but it is also about being humane and sensitive to the dangers posed by dogs when not in control.
Aarti Mangal is presently pursuing Ph.D. in Education at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has an interest in writing and in the past, few of her articles got published in Jansatta newspaper as well as The Hindu. She also writes poetry. Social emergent issues interest her. She has also written academic papers on the discourse of para teachers and on the history of teacher education in India.
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