Stray canine inhabitants management is dogged by unhealthy science

The horror tales proceed to pour in. Youngsters, normally from poor households or in rural areas, are being hunted and killed by homeless canines. State and central governments appear to be helpless to make sure the protection of individuals on the streets, from what has clearly develop into a human rights subject and a public well being disaster. 

The primary wrongdoer behind that is the Animal Beginning Management (ABC) Guidelines that had been first launched in 2001 by the Ministry of Tradition, and now changed by much more absurd ABC Guidelines, 2023. This coverage, regardless of the protestation by those that promoted it, is totally missing in each science in addition to logic. 

The coverage goals to implement a method referred to as ‘catch-neuter-vaccinate-release’ to regulate populations of free-ranging canines and cats. 


Nonetheless, regardless of 20 years of this coverage and a whole lot of crores of rupees being spent, canine inhabitants in India is now greater than 65 million. Proponents of this technique aver that the one motive it didn’t work is as a result of it has not been carried out correctly. However what they fail to know is that it is unimplementable from a scientific, logistic and financial perspective. 

The ABC programme doesn’t appear to have any benchmarks or targets. For instance, earlier than the beginning of the programme, a municipal company can be required to estimate the bottom inhabitants of canines to be sterilised. It will then have to set targets for inhabitants discount inside an affordable time interval, say 5 years, after which calculate what number of would must be sterilised to attain this goal.

Nonetheless, municipalities set targets for sterilisation primarily based on budgets and out there services. Generally, solely a small fraction of the inhabitants is sterilised, and in lots of circumstances, the programme itself is discontinued after a couple of cycles. 

Canines are extremely fecund animals, and reproduce at a excessive charge if sufficient assets can be found. Each area and modelling research present that almost 90% of the canine inhabitants must be sterilised over a brief time frame to attain a sustained inhabitants discount over a 10-15-year interval. This ‘minor’ element is conveniently skipped by most proponents of the ABC programme.

Feeding canines

The opposite main drawback is that the ABC Guidelines, 2023, bizarrely require folks to feed canines, wherever they might be. The idea of feeding animals in India is related both with spiritual beliefs, a false sense of compassion, or at its egregious worst, a wilful misinterpretation of Article 51G of the Constitutional obligation to be compassionate to all residing beings. Most individuals both throw a couple of biscuits on the roadside or depart leftover meals exterior their homes, however some folks, with virtually spiritual fervour, exit of their method to feed dozens of canines. 

A examine carried out in Bengaluru discovered that roadside eateries and some households that fed canines had been the primary components liable for excessive canine densities. This creates big battle between feeders and strange residents who must cope with packs of canines roaming round their neighbourhoods. Though some justify feeding as a method of creating canines pleasant and simpler to catch for sterilisation, the identical examine discovered that, the truth is, only a few folks really sterilise or vaccinate canines that they feed.  

Reckless feeding tends to congregate canines and results in pack formation, territoriality and aggression even amongst sterilised canines. This behaviour is normally triggered at night time. At its very worst, this frenzied looking behaviour can find yourself inflicting extreme harm and even demise as a result of mauling, particularly of young children and the aged. One other examine additionally discovered that in city areas, canines had been the second main reason behind street accidents. 

Regardless of all these negatives, why does the federal government stick with a coverage that’s merciless at a number of ranges? It’s merciless to canines, since homeless life on the streets is just not straightforward, with accidents, illness, wanton cruelty and fixed worry being their regular state. It’s merciless to strange residents, depriving folks of their proper to life, free motion, and a protected surroundings. In lots of areas, canines are additionally main causes of hurt to wildlife, and trigger immense lack of biodiversity.

The unkindest minimize of all is that the ABC Guidelines ban the euthanasia of rabid animals, making India the one nation on the planet to observe such a merciless apply. The foundations require rabid canines to “die a natural death”.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t must be this fashion. Fixing this drawback requires a multi-pronged strategy, and a few troublesome choices. Strict pet possession legal guidelines, a ban on irresponsible feeding in public locations, and inspiring adoption and long-term sheltering of homeless canines will end in win-win options. Since euthanasia is so unacceptable to canine lovers, allow them to assist the everlasting sheltering of animals. 


Not like the ABC programme, the bills incurred in organising shelters will at the least end in eradicating canines from streets completely, whereas the ABC Guidelines require that the canines be launched again into the identical space, the place they could be a nuisance in perpetuity. The identical individuals who feed canines on the streets can supervise shelters to make sure that they’re effectively maintained and likewise feed them there.

If the “greatness of our nation and its moral progress” is to be judged by how we deal with animals, then absolutely we shouldn’t be making the worst enemies of our greatest mates. 

(Abi T. Vanak is a number one authority on the ecology of canines, and a long-time advocate for true canine welfare. He’s at present the Director for the Centre for Coverage Design, ATREE, Bengaluru)

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