- Frequent reports of dogs attacking people to death have made the management of stray dogs an administrative and legal issue.
- Dog bites and poor waste management
- The carrying capacity, i.e. the ability of a city to support a species, is determined by the availability of food and shelter.
- Free-ranging dogs, in the absence of these facilities, are scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
- Dogs thus congregate around urban dumps, such as landfills, due to feeding opportunities.
Increasing solid waste:
- A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste.
- Indian cities generate more than 1,50,000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.
- According to a United Nations Environment Program 2021 report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers ended up in households, restaurants, vendors and other food service retailers’ dustbins in 2019.
- Indian homes on average generated 50 kg of food waste per person.
- This waste often serves as a source of food for hunger-stricken, free-roaming dogs.
- Urban dogs are believed to have a distinct set of traits as compared to rural dogs.
- They have learnt to develop survival techniques in fast-paced, often hostile motorised urban environments.
- Dogs do not usually pose a threat to human well-being.
- Proper management of refuse and a tolerant attitude towards dogs can ensure their peaceful co-existence with us.
Role of urbanisation
Their population and disease connection:
- Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population.
- As per the official 2019 livestock census it stood at 1.5 crore.
- Independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
- The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
- India also shoulders the highest rabies burden in the world, accounting for a third of global deaths caused due to the disease.
- In 2015, a study conducted in 10 Indian metro cities found a strong link between human population, the amount of municipal and food waste generated, and the number of stray dogs in the cities.
- The unconfined and unmanaged leftovers end up aiding the proliferation of stray dogs.
- Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.
- Most landfills and dumping sites are located on the peripheries of cities, next to slums and settlement colonies.
- Thus, the disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums.
- A study published in 2016 found that the prevalence of dog bites was higher in urban slums than rural slums.
- India’s response to the stray dog menace has relied upon the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, through which municipal bodies trap, sterilise and release dogs to slow down the dog population.
- The second anchor was rabies control measures, including vaccination drives.
- low awareness around the health implications of dog bites
- irregular supply of vaccines
- delay in seeking treatments
- lack of national policy
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB