Nowadays, the problem of stray dogs in our country is a burning issue. One can see them everywhere — at market places, at bus stands, and even inside the building premises. Many people consider stray dogs a nuisance and keep saying things like — “They are dirty creatures”, “They dirty our streets”; “They scare off our children”; “They bite people and spread rabies”; “Why aren’t they removed from here?”, etc.
The animal lovers keep saying — “Dogs have a right to live too”; “We don’t own this earth and dogs have an equal right to live on this planet”; “How can you throw out a mother and her small furry puppies? Don’t you have a heart?”
Both parties are right in a way. We cannot kill or remove stray dogs from a place because they are living beings capable of all emotions and sufferings and hence they have a right to live in that space. So, to solve the problem of rabies and over-population of street dogs, we need to find solutions that are ethical and lawful.
The solution of the sterilisation and vaccination programme will satisfy both the ‘dog haters’ and ‘dog lovers’. Sterilisation basically involves spaying of females and castration of male dogs so that they do not reproduce. Vaccination involves giving the dogs an anti-rabies vaccine. After sterilisation, the dogs do not reproduce and hence their population becomes stable. As they are vaccinated against rabies and other diseases, they do not pose any health hazards.
Killing or removal of dogs from an area is not a solution as it is normally thought. Since dogs are territorial creatures, they will not allow any other dog to enter the colony. If the dogs are removed from an area, other dogs from surrounding areas will take their place. Thus, we will be back to initial situation after a few months. Further, these new dogs may be unsterilized and unvaccinated which will only worsen the situation.
Though it may seem paradoxical, but having dogs in a society makes it safer. Even when guards are employed, they normally sit together at the gate and pass the night especially during the winters. Also when they patrol the colony at nights, they cannot detect unscrupulous persons hiding behind, trees or under cars or see them in unilluminated and dark areas. But such persons are easily detected by dogs.
Like humans, animals also have a right to live. They have a complete sensory nervous system allowing them to be aware and communicative. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Should the more intelligent humans have rights and the less intelligent humans be denied rights? If that is not so, then why are animals denied their rights? “A dog is a man’s best friend,” so goes the saying. And it indeed is.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)