‘Toddler mauled by a pack of stray dogs,’ read the headline in Chandigarh newpapers. Not the wolves in the periphery but the stray dogs in the heart of the city attacked and killed an eighteen month old baby boy. Shocking! Horrifying it is, but certainly not an isolated case of canine assault. In fact, incidents of dog bites and attacks are a common occurrence in Chandigarh.
With the increasing population of stray dogs, the problem has assumed menacing proportion, not just in the tri-city but all over the country except for Nagaland and a few North–Eastern states. Stray dog can be found roaming about freely at all places-lanes, markets, parks, tourist spots and even public hospitals. Quoting from the lyrics of a hugely popular song of 2000, in disgust and anguish, I ask, “Who let the dogs out?”
While the dogs rule the roost in our country, I wonder why there are no stray dogs in the west. Half a dozen developed countries that I have visited, not a single stay dog did I spot. The four legged creatures that I did see, however, were pets, of different breeds and sizes, escorted by their masters to parks, markets and public places. Unlike India, where a pet dog is taken for a walk to poo and piss, in the west owners ensure that their dogs do not litter on the streets. It was a surprise for me to see the dog owners scoop dog shit in a polythene bag and drop it in the trash bin.
These are not the dogs alone that are having a free run in our country but in many cities and towns in India, abandoned cows and many stray animals are let loose on the road posing a traffic hazard. I wonder how come all the stray animals can be found roaming about in our country, but not elsewhere in the world. In the west, you find domestic animals in the sheds, pets with their masters but no stray animals on the streets and roads. In the sprawling greens of Switzerland cows can be seen grazing in the fields, hear cow bells jingling, but never see the animals cross their territory to intrude into human domain. A thought to ponder over!
I wonder if we really are an animal loving nation. Do we really care for the animals and revere cows? If so, abandoned animals should not be seen in the country in a pathetic state gorging on waste. It is painful to see the deserted animals wander here and there; sleep on the roads and die of hunger, disease or an accident. We are queer animal loving people, don’t believe in slaughter but allow the animals be treated shabbily.
Letting the stray dogs, and for that matter, all strays wander freely in human habitation to become a menace, is neither kindness to the animals nor in the interest of the man. Surely it’s a case of ill-conceived compassion and misplaced priorities!
(Published in H T Chandigarh (Guest Column) on 15 July 2018)