Dogs, often called humanity’s best friends, have played a significant role in our lives for centuries. However, recent conflicts surrounding street dogs have raised concerns about responsible ownership and the coexistence of humans and dogs in our communities. In this article, we explore the importance of promoting a more humane society that embraces dogs while emphasizing the need for government incentives to encourage responsible dog ownership.
Prime Minister Modi’s Call for Indian Breed Dogs
In August 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation in his Mann Ki Baat show and highlighted the significance of Indian breed dogs. He commended the bravery of Indian Army dogs Sophie and Vida, resonating nationwide. These dogs, specifically the Indian Mudhol hounds deployed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Chhattisgarh, have played a pivotal role in anti-Naxal operations. Their exceptional ability to detect human presence in dense jungles has revolutionized patrolling and posed challenges for Naxal groups.
PM Modi also mentioned various Indian dog breeds, including the Indian Mudhol hounds, encouraging their adoption. This recognition has sparked discussions and underscored the need to appreciate and protect our native dog breeds.
The Street Dog Conundrum
Street dogs have become a recurring concern in recent years, with incidents of dog bites and neighbourhood conflicts on the rise. However, addressing this issue requires a balanced and humane approach that respects human and animal welfare.
India’s Legal Framework
India has comprehensive legal provisions for animal welfare governed by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Animal Birth Control rules. These rules advocate for a humane approach to control street dog populations through “capture-sterilize-return” methods. While these rules offer a compassionate solution, the gravity of the situation is evident from the alarming statistics of dog bites and rabies cases reported in India.
Learning from Successful Models
Countries like the United States and the Netherlands have effectively controlled their stray dog populations by changing public attitudes and implementing conducive civic measures. The Netherlands, for example, has been rabies-free since 1923 and attributes its success to a combination of clear ownership laws and encouraging dog adoption from shelters through higher taxes on store-bought dogs.
Ownership Rights Matter
When people have a sense of ownership and responsibility towards dogs, they are more likely to engage in responsible ownership practices. Clear rules and regulations, such as fines for littering, can help maintain order while promoting responsible pet ownership.
Community-level initiatives and sensitization programs can bridge the gap between humans and dogs. Encouraging residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) to take charge of feeding and caring for community dogs can create a harmonious coexistence. Collaboration between civil society and authorities is essential in achieving this goal.
Education and Familiarization
Initiating sensitization and familiarization programs, particularly at the school level, can alleviate irrational fears of dogs. Encouraging schools to visit animal shelters and engage with animals can foster empathy and compassion towards dogs from an early age.
In conclusion, addressing the street dog conundrum in India requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes both human and animal welfare. Long-term changes involving education, attitudinal shifts, and responsible ownership practices are vital. Simultaneously, short-term solutions should involve:
- Allowing those predisposed to dog welfare to undertake actions without interference.
- Implementing neuter and release programs.
- Promoting the adoption of local dog breeds.
Dogs are not just our companions; they are an integral part of our communities and deserve to be treated with care and respect.