The Menace

dog at Begumpur Masjid

Street dogs are just about everywhere I go in India (here pictured at Begumpur Masjid). Sometimes I wonder if there are more dogs or people living in my neighbourhood.

Obviously the dog population is encouraged by exposed garbage and slums. Plus the food voluntarily provided by all my neighbours, who are proudly telling me they take care of the dogs in the area (but don’t seem to look at the slum dwellers). Others even keep the animals as free-roaming pets.

The dogs normally don’t pose a menace to me – on the contrary, I find them to be laid-back, cautious and discreet (maybe  because they get so much food here?). The only problem seems to be that they are often lying in the middle of the sidewalk or street, blocking half the traffic.

Even when I accidentally stepped on one of them while marvelling at the houses in Leh, Ladakh, the dog only uttered a short sound and went off. No bite so far in my limbs.

Though I have to say I came close to injuries when a pack of stray dogs chased me on my bicycle the other night and I nearly bumped into a car because I was scared by their barking. So I frantically tried to kick one of the dogs on the nose and shifted the focus from the road ahead of me to their heads.

But now I learnt that India has the highest rate of human rabies in the world – in nearly all cases because they got bitten by stray dogs. Mass killings were forbidden some 20 years ago, now sterilization programs are carried out (or not, as I can daily see in the streets).

Now, there’s another international organisation who wants to help India: Mission Rabies, a project by the UK-lead charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), is trying to vaccinate 2 million dogs against rabies over the next 3 years.

“Every 2 seconds someone is bitten by a dog in India and around 24 people a day suffer an excruciating death from rabies – over half of which are children”, Misson Rabies states on the webpage. So the task sounds challenging. But: Good luck!


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