People in Srinagar city have been left at the mercy of the increasing population of stray dogs.
Children, elderly persons, women, and others keep on getting attacked, and bitten by dogs; many land in hospitals for treatment.
The authorities watch as silent spectators and do not like to go beyond assurances.
The stray dogs become more active after evening and make it very difficult for residents to move out during night hours.
Pedestrians are easy prey, while the dogs also chase the moving vehicles. The dogs virtually take control of roads, lanes and by-lanes during night.
The growing menace has been talked about a lot and highlighted in media, but no solid step has been taken on the ground to solve the problem.
It seems that such a serious problem is not a priority for the concerned officials of Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Some measures should be taken so that the problem gets resolved and people protected.
The officials while justifying their inaction refer to the objections by animal rights activists against the killing of stray dogs by poisoning.
Killing by poisoning is not the only option, the authorities can use other measures as well to overcome the problem. Sometimes sterilisation of dogs is done on a very limited scale. But this does not help and the population of dogs keep on increasing.
In 2015, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) while taking cognisance of media reports on the stray dog menace in New Delhi had observed that prima facie, it is of the view that human rights should weigh above animal rights in a situation where human lives are at risk due to attack by animals.
However, this calls for a debate by the civil society, NHRC had averred. The Commission also observed that “while the measure of sterilisation may help contain the increase in the dog population, it does not save or shield people from the bites of existing dogs. It looks like a human rights versus animal rights battle.”
“The situation assumes alarming proportions when one links the stray dogs with their contribution to Rabies disease,” the commission had said. In 2008, officials in Srinagar had poisoned hundreds of stray dogs and intended to kill thousands others at that time.
But they had to abandon the programme due to strong objections by animal rights activists, who said that it is an illegal and cruel solution to a problem that could be solved through other ways.
It has been 14 years since 2008 and authorities have not yet found out the other means to tackle dog menace. They try to divert the attention by limited sterilisation here and there.
While we raise this issue and ask authorities to act, the people also must not throw on roads the household garbage, which attracts dogs in search of food.