Stray Dogs Rising Menace: A Threat to Lives and the Need for Effective Measures

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Stray Dogs
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More frequently, we come across news of dog bites inflicting deep injuries and the transfer of the rabies virus to children and elders, which in severe cases has led to death. In the Vasant Kunj area of Delhi, two siblings aged 7 and 5 became prey to these stray dogs and lost their lives. This is not the first case and certainly won’t be the last one. Parliamentary data revealed that there are an average of 10,000 dog bite cases every day in India. Along with several urban problems such as inadequate garbage disposal mechanisms, water scarcity, air pollution, overcrowding, slums, and homelessness, these stray dogs have emerged as a new threat to people’s lives.

Firstly, let us see why there is a sudden rise in the number of stray dogs in recent years:

India is home to the largest number of street dogs in the world, with a population of 6.2 crore street dogs according to the report on the state of pet homelessness index. Humans are directly or indirectly responsible for this condition. Out of their companionship and affinity towards dogs, they feed street and abandoned dogs, contributing to their population growth. Unchecked population increase and the availability of food locally, along with tons of garbage accumulating in cities, have made scavenging easier for street dogs, leading to an uncontrolled rise in their numbers. However, the government has imposed stringent laws for the safety of these dogs under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and killing them may lead to imprisonment for up to 2 years, further aggravating the problem. Furthermore, the government has failed to effectively control the rising population and ensure their well-being and relocation.

Dogs as the best companions:

Around the world, humans are very fond of dogs. They love taming, caring for, and nurturing them, and share a deep bond, making these four-legged creatures man’s best friend. Dogs have also proved to be very faithful to their owners, ensuring the safety and security not only of a single house but also of entire streets and colonies at night. In India alone, there are 10 million pet dogs, and this number is expected to reach 35 million this year.

Street Dogs as a threat to people’s lives:

With the rise in the number of stray dogs, incidents of dog attacks are also increasing, sometimes involving pet dogs as well. Heavy injuries and deaths due to dog bites are also rising at an alarming rate, threatening the lives of children and elderly individuals in particular. Merely walking on the streets appears courageous. Furthermore, there were 47,291 rabies cases reported last year in our country. According to WHO estimates, rabies mainly caused by dog bites in India leads to 18,000 – 20,000 deaths per year. Poor knowledge about dog bite management practices, coupled with a higher prevalence of dog bite cases, worsens the situation and puts pressure on the government and administrative machinery to control their population.

Are dog bites an urban problem only?

Rural areas are not left untouched by the problem of stray dogs. Studies show that dog bite incidence is higher in urban areas (30.1/1000) compared to rural areas (19.6/1000). However, the lack of knowledge about first aid treatment after a dog bite, such as washing the wound with soap and water, is significantly low in villages. Additionally, there is lower coverage of anti-rabies serum in rural areas, making the problem even more serious. Moreover, due to a higher prevalence of poverty in rural areas, people are not fond of feeding stray dogs, and village dwellers are often unaware of government laws regarding animal protection. Some even resort to killing stray dogs, further exacerbating the problem and causing their population not go out of control.

Government intervention:

The government has implemented stringent pet ownership laws to keep a check on any nuisance created by pets in public places. They have built shelter houses for stray dogs where they receive the required care, including vaccination and sterilization. Recently, a strict step has been taken to prevent the rise in the street dog population by prohibiting the feeding of stray dogs in public places. The government is also consistently campaigning against rabies and its aftermath, and taking proper efforts to expand vaccine availability and accessibility.

India stray dogs ABC rules, 2023:

In India, animal birth control has been regulated under the Animal Birth Control (ABC) rules of 2001, amended in 2023. These rules come under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying and make municipalities, municipal corporations, and panchayats responsible for the vaccination and sterilization of free-roaming stray dogs, as well as addressing the cruelty carried out in the process of catching them. The local authorities are also directed to take steps for the proper disposal of solid garbage. This rule aims to transfer stray dogs into a new class of “community animals.”


Affinity for dogs has its own place, but beyond acts of kindness, compassion, and love, we need to realize that feeding animals causes more harm than good. Mere rules and laws on paper won’t make any real difference; the responsible authorities need to ensure proper and effective implementation of these laws. As important stakeholders and responsible citizens, we must act and adhere to the guidelines of the government to control the stray dog problem from becoming an urban menace, ensuring the safety of everyone.

Questions Ask Regarding Stray Dogs:

What can I do if I find a stray dog?

Approach the dog calmly and slowly, ensuring your own safety and avoiding sudden movements.

  1. Check for any identification tags or collars to see if the dog has an owner.
  2. If the dog seems friendly and approachable, you can try to contain it safely and contact local animal control or a nearby animal shelter for assistance.
  3. If the dog appears scared or aggressive, it’s best to maintain a safe distance and report the situation to the appropriate authorities who can handle the situation safely.

Can stray dogs be a pet?

Yes, stray dogs can potentially be adopted as pets. Many stray dogs are capable of forming strong bonds with humans and can be successfully rehabilitated and integrated into loving homes. However, it’s important to approach the adoption process responsibly.

What is the lifespan of a street dog?

The lifespan of a street dog can vary greatly depending on various factors such as access to food, shelter, healthcare, and exposure to dangers. On average, the lifespan of a street dog is shorter compared to pet dogs, typically ranging from 5 to 10 years.

Why stray dogs are a problem?

  1. Public safety: Stray dogs can pose a risk to public safety, exhibiting aggression and causing injuries or transmitting diseases like rabies.
  2. Overpopulation: Uncontrolled breeding leads to an excessive population of stray dogs, resulting in resource competition, territorial conflicts, and strain on local authorities.
  3. Health and hygiene: Stray dogs can spread parasites and diseases, contribute to unsanitary conditions by scavenging through garbage, and cause property damage and nuisances in communities.

Article Credit: Ishika Singh

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