Controlling dogs

Birth control programs can solve the problem

ISSUE BY DR. FAYAZ GANIE

This refers to the debate about the problem of dog overpopulation in the valley. What are the ways and means to fight this problem? I have worked for several NGOs, who in collaboration with government agencies have been helping in keeping dog population under check in metro cities of India like Mumbai, Chandigarh and Delhi.  
First, we must recognise the fact that dogs are also among God’s creations, and this planet belongs to them as well. They too have certain rights and we as human beings have a special responsibility and duty towards these innocent creatures. We must respect their rights. Nature usually has an inbuilt mechanism to keep under check populations of various animal species. But human interference disturbs this mechanism, and then problems arise. Same is the case with street or feral dogs. Dogs are not reproductively capable of maintaining high population density unless food and harbourage is provided to them by man intentionally or unintentionally, like open garbage dumps, empty buildings etc. The abundance of resources humans provide leads to overpopulation of dogs. Thus clearly it’s a 'man made problem'. We are ourselves responsible for such sad state of affairs.  
Now when their is rapid increase in dog population, it creates number of other problems like tendency of dogs to display aggressive behaviour, biting to defend their territory, spread of zoonotic diseases like rabies, parasitic infections etc. Two methods of human intervention can solve this issue. One is mass culling of dogs e.g. by poisoning etc, which is now an archaic method hardy practised anywhere in the world. This method of mass culling in the long run proves out to be expensive and is unethical also. According to WHO, mass culling or slaughter often produces a short term effect, since catching rate at maximum is mere 24 percent. And when dogs are removed from an area, others migrate to that area to fill the ecological niche.   
According to an in depth analysis of the issue of dog overpopulation, based on field studies in Indian cities of Jaipur, Bangalore and Mumbai, Kathy Nolan (fellow royal college of veterinary physicians, London) has also concluded that killing is never a long term solution since its not possible to eliminate all dogs and other dogs soon reproduce in cleared areas. Mass culling is thus wastage of resources and counterproductive in the spread of zoonotic diseases. Besides there’re various constitutional and legal provisions, which may give a legal tone to the entire issue e.g. prevention of cruelty to animals act 1960 etc. And there are also serious ethical and animal welfare issues linked to culling. Several animal rights groups like animal welfare board of India AWBI, PETA and PFA will further vehemently appose any such measure.  
The most accepted and widely practised method to tackle this problem is that of animal birth control programs, which involve surgical neutralising of dogs. This method is hundred percent effective to ensure long term infertility in dogs. The surgically neutralised dogs may be vaccinated against rabies and released in the same area from where they are caught. This will create stable, smaller dog population in which rabies is better controlled. This method ensures both animal and human welfare, and also we can avoid the welfare and ethical issues.   
The state government has taken the initiative of creating the necessary infrastructure in SKUAST premises. This is step in the right direction. But on a long term basis all stake holders should be taken on board. The involvement of national and international animal welfare NGOs will specifically help pool in financial and technical resources like training of vets, supply of vaccines, and other surgical equipments. In this direction, Srinagar Municipal Commission should involve animal husbandry, state veterinary colleges, representatives of citizen bodies, animal right NGOs etc so that they work together in close coordination to effectively resolve this crisis.

(Dr. Fayaz Ganie is manager technical services with Marshall Breeders, India)

Lastupdate on : Sun, 22 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 22 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 23 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST




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