Are dogs our friends or “foes”?

Stray dogs,Chandigarh,Meera Ahuja
Stray dogs,Chandigarh,Meera Ahuja
Stray dogs following a pet dog in Sector 51 Chandigarh–Meera Ahuja

Are dogs our friends or “foes”?

Meera Ahuja

CHANDIGARH:

Almost every day, several cases of people bitten by stray dogs are reported from different areas in the tricity of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

It is sad but true that in at least two cases, the dogs have died and found to be rabid. This is indeed a very dangerous and terrifying situation.

Medically, the Rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of animals. It can thus be transmitted by a rabid animal to another by licking or biting.

From times immemorial, the dogs, associated with loyalty, have been regarded as man’s best friend. One remembers Greek mythology as to how Ulysses’ dog recognised him after so many years and died at the feet of his master.

Indian epic Mahabharata narrates how the Pandavas and Draupadi spent the years in exile together and how they subsequently ruled collectively until the end of their days but it was only their dog who could follow Yudhistra to Heaven and enter along with him.

Coming to the present situation, the Chandigarh Administration and the district authorities in Panchkula (Haryana) and Mohali (Punjab) must ideally speaking sterilise the stray dogs especially during the summer months. Efforts must be made to educate the general public that they must not fear the stray dogs and absolutely not beat them which makes it worse.

About two years ago, stray dogs were apparently sterilised on a very large scale in Chandigarh. Leaving aside the politics, the charges and counter-charges besides the effectiveness and sincerity of the animal welfare organisations, sterilizationthe moot question is whether sterilising the stray dogs the answer to this problem?

stray dogs,Meera Ahuja
Stray dogs gathering outside a house in Panchkula –Meera Ahuja

Dogs are one of the easiest animals to train and domesticate. Even if we do not like dogs or wish to adopt them, it will be easier to befriend them. All a dog wants is water, food and a safe place to sleep. It must not be forgotten that in summers, disoriented by thirst and urban din, a stray dog who may be beaten or teased may bite people in self-defence.

I strongly feel that most of the stray animals are timid and scared of people, who either tease them or throw stones at them. They are also tortured by loud fireworks all year round. The bodies of strays (and sometimes, even pets) are not buried but left to rot. Some owners let free their dogs to mate and do not bother to take care of the mother and the litter.

A bitch in our neighbourhood had a litter of five puppies, of which only one survived. The bitch, who was a puppy at the sterilisation drive and a very affectionate and timid dog, now barks at every passing vehicle, which she holds responsible for the loss of her babies.

Even if no dogs are born in Chandigarh, more dogs will move in from other places. It would be better if the residents get the stray animals in their locality vaccinated, feed them (with fresh food and not waste) and provide them with water and shelter.

The authorities must gear up their act and shed lethargic attitude and ensure that there are adequate medical facilities round the clock to take care of cases of dog bites.

 

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