Dog Lover Or Not, Here’s What You Should Know


There is no better feeling in the world than when a dog comes to you, tail wagging, half whining and half barking with excitement, and smothers you with doggy love.

There is also the sheer terror of bared teeth, a menacing snarl or a pack chasing you.

I absolutely love dogs, but I absolutely believe that with great love comes great responsibility.

On Tuesday a seven-month-old baby died after being mauled by a dog. It was brutal. A few days ago, a woman needed 50 stitches after being bitten by her own pit bull; it also bit her two children.

Worldwide, pet pit bulls are responsible for the maximum number of attacks on people, followed by Rottweilers. Pit bulls, as their name suggests, were bred for aggression, especially because of the underground dogfight clubs or the “pits”. These are grotesque matches in which dogs are pitted against each other and bets are placed. Often smaller dogs and other animals are thrown into the pit to simply be torn apart.

Illegal dog fights are prevalent in north India and support big gambling rackets. Dogs like Rottweilers, Dobermans and Alsatians are all bred for the specific purpose of being guard dogs, or attack dogs, or police and army dogs.

The child in Noida was killed by a stray. There are an estimated 35 million stray dogs in India. This is a staggering number and a massive problem.

As many as 1.5 crore people have been bitten since 2019. Annually, 18,000 to 20,000 people die from rabies in India.

India contributes to 37 per cent of rabies deaths worldwide. It’s one of the oldest zoonotic diseases, is endemic in India and has a near 100 per cent fatality rate if vaccines are not given instantly. Dogs are responsible for 97 per cent of the rabies deaths in India.

These are all unacceptable statistics, and when children are killed, it moves into the realm of the unsupportable. There is no excuse.

Where I live in the Western Cape, South Africa, I have never seen a stray dog. In my travels to many cities around the world, I have never seen a stray dog. In cities in India, nearly every street has them.

Dogs tend to form packs, are incredibly territorial and when not in constant contact with people and gentle handling, can display high levels of aggression. There needs to be a massive movement to neuter and sterilise all strays to bring aggression levels down and also check their proliferation.

More shelters are also needed. When you have dogs, especially young pups on your street, it is hard not to care for them if you are a dog lover. Khan Market in Delhi has dogs everywhere. These dogs are neutered or sterilised and fed well. They hardly bother anybody. In many other parts of the city, however, the dogs are fed but neither vaccinated, nor sterilized. Some of them can become territorial and aggressive. The feeding is often haphazard and needs to be confined to designated areas.

As pack animals, dogs will fight any other dog that is not part of the pack. The alpha is usually challenged by a rival. There are fights over mating rights. Living on the street, fighting for scraps, living within pack hierarchies makes them relatively dangerous animals to be around, especially if one does not know how to be around them.

If you are familiar with dogs and know not to show fear or try to run when faced with an aggressive dog, they will usually back away. But everyone can’t be expected to either know this or learn this. People, especially children, should feel safe walking the streets.

Packs of strays in and around many of our cities have gone feral and much of the urban wildlife is either severely harmed or killed on a regular basis.

Dogs around the world have contributed to the extinction of one dozen wild bird and animal species. With our cities overflowing with garbage, which in turn attracts rats, there is continuous food supply for dogs and many stagnant water ponds, puddles and drains give them water. This allows their population to grow. If all the dogs are tagged, marked and sterilised, their birth rates can be reduced drastically and over time, reach a stage where there are no dogs outside of shelters or home care.

It’s so much better for the dogs as well, to be cared for. On the streets, many of them starve, get sick, are hit by cars and are subjected to cruelty and tormented.

Just killing dogs is no solution. Unless our cities turn into green and clean zones overnight, we are going to have strays. Let’s say a locality decides to kill the strays, dogs from other areas will move in. Nature does not permit a vacuum. The only way forward is to sterilise, vaccinate and clean your surroundings up. Timely garbage removal is key to controlling the dog population.

It’s easy to target people who feed the dogs. The dogs are not around just because they are being fed, nor are they aggressive because of the feeding.

Any numbers of studies have shown that there is no predicting the aggression or why some dogs bite and some attacks are fatal. Often, the more well-fed dogs who are shown love, show less aggression.

Unfortunately, the usual reaction is that the civic staff comes by and uses horrendously cruel methods to capture the dogs. They are put to death in terrible electrocution chambers and the pain and suffering the animals face is horrific.

Fear also makes people lash out. Boiling water, rocks and objects are thrown at the dogs. Puppies are tied into gunny sacks and drowned and many are beaten to death. Often attacks also happen when people provoke the animal.

Children, however, are a soft target. Children between five and nine are most at risk as they flitter about outside parental supervision and are too small to be intimidating. Annually, 4.5 million children are bitten by dogs worldwide. An estimated 30 to 50 people are killed just in the US by dogs. That is 10 times more than the number killed by sharks.

People also love to keep dogs they have no business owning. Families, especially those with little children, should avoid dogs like rottweilers or pit bulls or Alsatians. Many people buy dogs as status symbols and do not even bother walking them.

Children spend five minutes between activities to pet or take photos with Spotty and the rest of the time, it’s the household staff that feeds, grooms and walks him.

Many dogs who are cute as puppies become big, unmanageable adults and get abandoned. Unscrupulous breeding is also a problem. The Ghaziabad civic body recently banned pit bulls, rottweilers and Dogo Argentine as pets.

I have been bitten three times by dogs. Once it was because of my own stupidity and failure to heed warnings that I am now acutely aware of. I don’t walk fast towards or around an unknown dog. I do not put my hand out to pet any dog on their heads. That’s their blind zone and many will react with a bite or a snarl. It is best to stand still, hold your hand in a fist, and wait for the dog to register your smell. Once they do that, they will either walk away or give you a tentative lick to invite more petting. Even then, avoid the top of their heads. Keep your hands where the dog can see them.

If a dog has his ears flattened against his skull, has his hackles raised, teeth bared and stands very still, make no sudden movements. A pack of strays that is fighting can bite you in transferred aggression, so you would be wise to avoid the spot and pick up and hold a child to make her look taller. Most importantly, the calmer you are, the less aggressive the dog will be.

70% bites are not dangerous and usually don’t even break skin, but they can make many people very fearful of dogs. Dogs can smell that fear and become more aggressive.

It is a fact that the dog is perhaps the only creature on earth that can love you more than it loves itself. The only animal that will continue to love and show loyalty even to an abusive owner.

However, that love is not transferred to everyone, and as much as a dog can love you, they can be deadly towards a stranger they perceive as a threat. We must demand a humane, workable solution to reducing the numbers of stray dogs on our streets. It’s the only way forward for both the dogs and people.

(Swati Thiyagarajan is an Environment Editor with NDTV and author of ‘Born Wild’, a book about her experiences with conservation and wildlife both in India and Africa.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.


Source link

Written by admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rupee Crashes To A New Record Low Of 82.95 Per Dollar, Reversing Earlier Gains

Rupee Crashes To A New Record Low Of 82.95 Per Dollar, Reversing Earlier Gains