A First-Of-Its-Kind Magazine On Environment Which Is For Nature, Of Nature, By Us (RNI No.: UPBIL/2016/66220)

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Mr VK Joshi

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Mr VK Joshi

Mr VK Joshi

Mr VK Joshi

Know Your Pooch

Street dogs and us

So far I have been writing about your Bozo and the related problems. Today, I intend to write about the dogs which are homeless; that is the Street dogs. We are faced with a gargantuan problem of the street dogs vs. the society. In our urban areas the human dwellings can be broadly categorised into three types, the individual houses, bungalows; the gated or walled societies with multi-storeyed apartments or of individual cottages and the slums. It is a fact that near the apartments where a large number of people live, slums do com up.

If you take a closer look, you find that the bungalows with a boundary wall are generally free from the menace of the street dogs. However, the roads are their territory and they do roam about freely and fearlessly. Whereas, they do manage to sneak into the gated societies and the slums are their favourite haunts. Actually these street dogs go to places where food is easily available. They find out ‘cozy corners’ near such places and make it their permanent abode. They multiply there and raise packs. Fights among intruding packs are not uncommon and many a time passers-by do get bitten or attacked.

The problem inside a gated society, specially a large one is more, because the number of human beings living inside that campus is much more than individual houses spread over a larger area and there are many hiding places for dogs. Naturally more waste food is available inside such complexes. To add to this there are several ‘self-styled’ care givers and they go out of way to feed the strays, making them even bolder! Children of all age groups live in such societies and they often get accidentally attacked by the strays. I have personally seen a few puppies playing the game of ‘catch me if you can’ are mistaken by some scared kids and sometimes even their parents as if the puppies were chasing them. Out of fear the children run and the puppies add them in their group and begin to play with them. Finally a child becomes a ‘pray’ and the rest of the puppies and often their elders too chase the child. The problems are endless.

Till a few years ago the stray dogs used to be picked up by the Municipal vans and killed. However, that cruelty has been put to an end by the law. In the present circumstances, both the human beings and the street dogs have to live in co-existence and for sake of the safety of human beings some amicable solution has to be found.

The present practice is that the Municipal vans, or in some places some NGOs, pick up such strays and take them to a shelter, where they are sterilized. These dogs are very well treated and finally returned to the place from where they were picked, duly vaccinated against the Rabies. Sterilized males cannot reproduce. Hence over a period of time the number of the packs gets reduced and gradually they die a natural death. It has been reported that the behaviour of such packs changes drastically, as the fight for a female is reduced to zero. However, this does not reduce the problems for the human societies in which these packs live.

The solutions are not very complicated or difficult to achieve. Firstly, the disposal of waste food should be done away with or disposed in such a manner that dogs don’t get it. Secondly, if at all some people are keen to feed the strays, they should all go to one pre-decided spot, and away from the inhabited areas feed the dogs there. This way in a few days’ dogs will start waiting for food at that spot, rather than loitering all over the area. However, they will certainly still roam, because foraging for food is their instinct, secondly a territory once they have marked, remains theirs and they do patrol it.

This is an advantageous situation because it is an instinct for a dog to guard his territory. Consequently, it doesn’t allow dogs from other territories to venture in. Another source of street dog aggression is a female guarding her pups. Once the males are neutered, there are no more pups to guard and there is no aggression. A female is generally protective towards children, whether hers or humans. Hence in the changed circumstances such females become the guardians of the children playing around, rather than hounding them.

Please remember that there is no instant solution to tackle the street dog menace. Neutering the adult males does reduce the increasing number. However, sometimes other males or those who escaped the Municipal vans do mate and produce puppies. But the number of puppies produced is far less.

Dogs are part and parcel of your society, you just can’t wish them away. The only remedy is to ensure that their numbers do not increase and they are kept properly vaccinated. I am sure that some of the readers must be thinking that why don’t they have street dogs in England or America? Well the answer is simple. Those countries do not have exposed garbage and slums. Hence the street dogs are not found there.

Dogs are like children. A child from a slum could be exceptionally brilliant, while another from rich parents may be dumb. Likewise some of street dogs too are very intelligent and pick up training like any other breed. The first dog that I trained in my life was a pup picked up from a litter on the street. Thus, one can always think in terms of adopting a street dog as a pet. If many people start thinking in the similar manner, much of the problem will be resolved.

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