By Rinchen Angmo Chumikchan, Saturday, March 4, 2017
The latest stray dog attack on a 29-year-old woman has yet again raised a serious question: Do we have enough facilities to put an end to the dog menace? The answer is simple: No. Despite horrifying reports of dog-bites, we have failed to take concrete steps to check the growing menace of stray dogs. The recent tragic incident in Nyoma has once again brought our conscience back to this problem.
This is the third case of a woman mauled to death by stray dogs in the last three years. In all the three cases, women were the victims. The death of two women and a child in such attacks is shocking and tragic.
The human-animal conflict continues to increase with time and an immediate reduction in dog population is the need of the hour. Authorities say every five years a national-level census is conducted and the last one was done in 2012. In 2013, a survey was done in Leh town from Gangles to Spituk in which they reported 2854 stray dogs.
The authorities do not have accurate statistics on stray dogs in Leh district, which poses a big question. Without doing a proper survey about the exact number of stray dogs, how can we find a solution? That shows very sadly, the grit, determination and priority of the civic bodies as woefully inadequate.
In Ladakh, stray dogs are posing a threat not only to humans but also to the wildlife. They have killed many wild animals, but who cares! Eradicating the stray dog menace appears to be a vexing problem as the administration is unable to find a solution. They have been fighting this war for a very long time now but, sadly, with no results.
One can spot hundreds of stray dogs roaming freely, feasting on garbage and chasing residents. Not to forget, we are also equally to blame for this menace as we litter the streets without thinking of the consequences. Stopping the habit of throwing garbage on streets can be a solution to the menace. The garbage dumps across the city offer sumptuous feasts to street dogs. Should we not, as a so-called civilised society, be more responsible?
Of course, the main reasons for the increase in the number of street dogs are the lack of proper disposal of civic waste, improper slaughter house and butcher shops. What is needed is a continuous effort and follow-up to tackle this issue. We wake up only when such incidents are reported, and after some time we forget it altogether.
Serious incidents of dog- bites are reported frequently from different places of Leh district. But the irony is that the administration is focussing only on Leh town. The first case was reported from Spituk, the second from Saspol and the latest from Nyoma.
The administration should also focus on the sterilisation of pet dogs as they also deliver 6-8 babies twice a year, later on becoming stray dogs. Sterilisation is a welcome step, but infrastructural and manpower limitations and lack of coordination between different agencies is making it an uphill task for local bodies to take up the programme.
Therefore, emphasis must be given on exploring the option of sterilisation, spreading awareness about adoption and supporting animal shelters is a more humane way. This will help sensitise our society and promote a responsible attitude towards stray animals.