Man’s best friend now the worst enemy

By Fatima Ashraf Barcha Leh, Jan 23, 2015
Leh :
Dogs were the first among animals to have been domesticated by primitive humans; they were the first animal companions to humans. To add to that they are also considered as it is put, “man’s best friend”, but I don’t think it holds true for those stray dogs that attacked a woman in Saspol weeks back. Such an incident is not something we are hearing for the first time, but this time it was too vicious.  The question now we got to deal is how can we stop such attacks from happening in the future?  We cannot blame anyone in this regard except the dogs. It is an animal and it will behave like one.  We know that stray dogs have been a menace and this issue has been bounced time and again. They are dangerous not only because they can bit but they can kill too. We walk around the streets, in the main bazaar and there is never a time we don’t see stray dogs loitering around. You never know whom they might just randomly attack. It is our right that we do what so ever in our power to protect ourselves from this impending danger.

Being cruel to the animals is not a solution. The concept of culling will not have a lasting and effective impact. How many dogs are we going to go around poisoning? It is inhuman. Just because the dogs are animals we cannot act like one and start slaughtering them. However, even if this option is taken into consideration, it won’t be long when the animal activists and animal lovers will raise voice against this decision. But yes if the stray dogs become too ferocious and have rabies there is no other option but to kill the animal, because seriously a human life is more precious than a dog that is life threatening.

There is a reason why the dogs become fierce; we must try to understand why they behave that way. First and foremost the concerned environment that they live in has a big role to play. Ladakh has become a seasonal tourist destination spot. In summers the hotels, guest houses, cafes and restaurants businesses produce a lot of food waste and in most of the cases there is no proper means of waste management. Areas where the waste is disposed in open is a hotspot for stray dogs, they live and breed in and around that area. These stray dogs get food every now and then, and during the winters as the environment becomes severe so does the scarcity of food. We ourselves don’t get the required amount of food to consume, so you can imagine the condition of the stray dogs. They roam around hungry and upon that the people walking by, out of fear, throw sticks and stones at them, which I am sure frustrate them to a level that they many a times retaliate, ending up biting people or worst case scenario a pack of dogs killing a human. I have seen some people showcasing their random act of kindness by feeding these dogs. If these people are so kindhearted then they must consider  the idea of adopting a stray dog and taking care of it, I guess such an act will bestow them with more blessing than just feeding the stray dogs once a while. What happens here is that when people out of kindness go around aimlessly feeding dogs it is but natural that such an act will attract lot of dogs at one place, which naturally increases the risk of dog attack in packs. It must also not seem new to you that most of the stray dogs seem to live in packs. They have these zones where they live and walk about as if they own the place. Nobody I am sure will disagree with me when I say that a pack of dogs can really frighten you. Many a times we see one or two dogs bark and the rest follow them with no rhyme or reason, running here and there scaring the hell out of you. You never know they may even end up attacking you.  We have to think twice before leaving our houses alone.
So is there a solution to this social issue? Is the administration up and awake now? Do they have some constructive, effective and long lasting plan in hand to curb the stray dogs? Or are they just going to wait again for heart rending incidents to happen? However, it is not like the concerned organizations have not done anything at all. We have seen some vans coming around once in a blue moon, picking up the stray dogs, we have also heard that they sterilize/ neuter and vaccinate the dogs so as to stop the indiscriminate increase in their population or decrease the risk of diseases spread by dog bites. Though this process has been happening since years, but do we see any rational effect in this regard? Further these procedures are not going to stop the dogs from attacking. If we say there is a need for an instant solution, let me tell you there is none. The only thing that we can consider is becoming our own guards.  

This is not to say that there is no solution at all. There is an effective method, but its implementation will take time which is building shelters for stray dogs, which by far has been worked upon by Young Drukpa Association. They are no doubt doing a commendable job, because they not only neuter and vaccinate these dogs but also give them a peaceful place to live and eat in. But they must make it a point to increase the capacity to shelter the dogs year by year. Similarly there is a need for making more shelters like these, but such projects require a lot of financial support and cooperation from the administration and the public respectively. It is the people especially the animal lovers and activists who should come in the fore front and press upon such requirements in the society. If they lead, the public will surely follow and do the needful. Such shelters become a hub for safe and compassionate treatment of stray dogs and in near feature will turn into a pet adoption center. This paves a reasonable way to overcome the issue.

It is very essential that we keep our surrounding areas clean. The people should be aware that cleanliness is important to reduce the number of dogs from living in and around their area. The Municipality committee must put some more force to work in this direction. Public, NGOs, and the government administrations must come together, strive and cooperate so as to resolve this matter as soon as possible.

Every living organism has the right to live, but what to do when one species become a threat to another? We are humans, most intelligent amongst all. If we put our heads together there is nothing we cannot accomplish. It is high time that we make it a point to make our region a safe and peaceful place to live in. They say there is no animal as faithful as a dog, but for us it seems too unreal to be true for they have been tagged as the creatures to be feared in the streets.
The writer is pursuing her Masters in History from Ambedkar University Delhi. You can write your feedback and comments at

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