Out of all the countries in the world, India has the most stray dogs. Estimates place India’s stray dog population at over 30 million.
The most common dog found on the streets of India is called the “Desi Dog,” or “national” dog. More often, this type of dog is called the “pariah” dog, but that term means “outsider,” which is derogatory.
Desi dogs are incredibly smart, which is clear based on their survival skills despite limited support from humans. “Just being able to cross a highly trafficked street in India requires the talent that most humans even
lack,” says Manreet Singh, a stray dog advocate.
Why are there so many stray dog in India?
Many people say that India’s stray dog population is so large due to issues with sanitation. Unlike in the USA, government programs are not in place in the same way. Exposed garbage and food scraps litter the country, and the dogs are able to survive through scavenging the trash. In some ways, this benefits the people as the dogs consume waste that would otherwise rot and become a contaminant for people.
However, the main cause of overpopulation in stray dogs is the lack of preventive measures: birth control. A dog can give birth to two litters per year with an average of seven puppies in each litter. The largest recorded litter included 24 puppies! Street dogs will continue to reproduce unless there are efforts to make sure that they no longer can. Some people in India hold religious beliefs against sterilization, so education campaigns are necessary in order to explain why spay and neuter surgery is essential, and ultimately prevents immense suffering.
India has animal birth control programs in place, but they are expensive and difficult to maintain. The process of spaying and neutering dogs requires the animal to be caught, brought in for the operation, have time to recover, and then be released again. The lack of government funding in this sector contributes to the overpopulation crisis.
What happens to all the stray dogs in India?
Stray dogs suffer on the streets. Dogs have been domesticated and thrive in the safety of a home with easy access to food and water. Another issue that the stray dogs in India face is extreme temperatures. In the summer months, temperatures soar past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Without access to shelter, dogs suffer greatly in the blistering heat. They become lethargic and dehydrated.
The stray dogs in India are stigmatized. People are quite afraid of them, even though aggression is relatively rare. Biologists Sreejani Sen Majumdel, Ankita Chatterjee, and Anindita Bhadra set out to examine the behaviors of stray dogs in India. The researchers found that 53% of the time, the dogs were just sitting, sleeping, or “lazing.” 16% of the time, the dogs were walking, and 6% of the time, the dogs were doing basic life necessities such as grooming, eating, and drinking. 10% of the time, they were interacting with other animals such as other dogs, cats, and cows. The researchers also looked at 32 interactions between dogs and humans, and recorded no aggressive behavior in those situations.
But the stigma against dogs can be very powerful. In many cases, people resort to violence against the street dogs. In 2016, BBC reported on the case of a man in Kerala, named Jose Maveli, who carries a gun and shoots the dogs who approach him. He has been fined and charged with animal cruelty numerous times, yet he continues to engage in horrific violence against the dogs.
As the population of stray dogs in India rises, so too does reported cases of animal cruelty.
The cruelty is horrifying and brutal. However, even though dog aggression isn’t very common, the fear that people feel towards dogs makes sense when we examine the rabies epidemic.
Rabies in stray dogs in India
India accounts for 36% of the world’s rabies cases. And unfortunately, the vast majority of rabies cases come as a result of dog bites.
Efforts are in place in order to vaccinate the dogs against rabies. However, this isn’t effective in the long term. Since the dogs will continue to reproduce, the offspring will then also need to be vaccinated.
The best way to reduce the number of rabies cases would be to reduce the number of dogs with rabies. And of course, the best way to reduce the number of dogs with rabies would be to reduce the number of dogs. Spay and neuter programs help to solve the issue right at its source, but the resources necessary to achieve this goal are limited in places like India. That’s why the 600 Million Dogs mission is focused on creating the one-dose Spay and Neuter Cookie.
A Cookie to save the stray dogs in India?
The Spay and Neuter Cookie, once completed, will be a world-changing solution. The ability to spay and neuter without surgery will save countries time, money, and a great deal of effort.
Hundreds of millions of stray dogs and cats roam the world on any given day, and they will go on to reproduce another one billion animals who will suffer and starve.
Help us solve the overpopulation crisis, and prevent the suffering of 1 billion dogs and cats.