Millions of stray dogs live on the streets of India. Most are direct descendants of their feral canine ancestors, a “breed” much older than any AKC (American Kennel Club) breed. With the recent increase in popularity among Indians of full breed dogs, more and more street dogs are abandoned pets or have bred with pet breeds.
Although they are widely feared because some carry rabies, for the most part India’s street dogs are not aggressive and will only bite if provoked. Indeed, many are fearful of humans and sadly, the dogs’ fears are well founded.
India’s street dog population is closely associated with municipal sanitation practices – or neglect thereof. Because these homeless dogs often survive by scavenging rubbish, exposed garbage means more healthy dogs – and more puppies. Ironically, this actually makes the dogs a boon to public sanitation. By scavenging garbage, they reduce perishable waste that could otherwise be a source of contamination for people. And their presence around garbage keeps away other potentially dangerous scavengers, such as rats and mice.
Unfortunately, fear and ignorance have led many Indian citizens and officials to see street dogs as nothing but a nuisance and to seek eradication using inhumane methods such as poisoning and beating. But for every dog killed, another typically comes in to take over that dog’s territory. The only scientific method to humanely reduce street dog populations is mass spay and neuters, commonly known as animal birth control (ABC).
Through ABC programs, all the dogs within a community or region are sterilized and then released back to their territories. The result: dog breeding stops and their population declines.
Help Animals India funds ABC programs across India and have funded the sterilization of hundreds of thousands of street dogs from partner organizations including, Varanasi for Animals, Karuna Society for Animals and Nature, HOPE and Animal Trust, Just Be Friendly, Sarnath Animal Welfare, Raahat, CUPA, and more.
Another partner, Sarvodaya Sevabhavi Samstha, is a traveling veterinary team that conducts ABC operations across India and educates communities about how to live safely and peacefully with street dogs and other animals.
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