Poor solid waste management is linked to stray dog attacks

  • Several stray dog attacks in Indian cities have highlighted the link between urban solid waste management and the stray dog problem.
  • Stray Dog Attacks in India Cities have seen a significant growth in the stray dog population, which stands at 1.5 crore according to the official 2019 livestock census.
  • However, independent estimates place the figure at around 6.2 crore.
  • Between 2012 and 2020, the number of dog bites more than doubled.
  • Experts agree that there may be a link between urbanisation and solid waste output, which has been highlighted by poor garbage disposal management.
  • Tepid animal birth control initiatives, limited rescue centres, and poor waste management all contribute to the expansion of street animals in India.

Reasons for poor waste management

  • Inadequate waste disposal facilities and poor solid waste management frequently result in the congregation of stray dogs near rubbish dumps and landfills, where they scrounge for food.
  • Unplanned urbanisation: The population expansion in Indian cities has resulted in a significant increase in the number of stray dogs. Rapid urbanisation has resulted in the development of slums and unmanaged solid waste, both of which attract dogs.
  • Food and shelter scarcity: The availability of food and shelter determines a city’s carrying capacity. In the absence of these amenities, free-roaming dogs turn into scavengers, foraging for food and finally gravitating towards exposed rubbish dumping sites.
  • Territoriality: Stray dogs frequently become territorial and aggressive in public places where they are fed, leading to a rise in human attacks.
  • Inadequate sterilisation and rescue centres: Tepid animal birth control initiatives, limited rescue centres, and poor waste management all contribute to the expansion of street animals in India.

India has a high rate of food waste

  • The increase in population in Indian cities has contributed to a phenomenal increase in solid waste output. Every day, Indian cities generate more than 150000 metric tonnes of urban solid trash.
  • According to a UNEP research published in 2021, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to customers ended up in the dumpsters of families, restaurants, vendors, and other food service providers in 2019.
  • On average, Indian households created 50 kg of food waste per person.
  • The presence of free-roaming dogs in cities is determined by the “carrying capacity” of the city, which is the availability of food and shelter.

Waste Disposal and Stray Dogs in Cities

  • Food and lodging: Waste food is frequently used as a source of food for hungry, free-roaming dogs that migrate to highly inhabited regions in cities, such as urban slums, which are commonly located near dumping sites.
  • In the lack of sufficient sanitation and waste disposal infrastructure, stray dogs become scavengers who scrounge for food near exposed rubbish dumping sites.

Impact of Unplanned and Unregulated Urban Development

  • ABC Programme: Municipalities use the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme to trap, sterilise, and release dogs in order to reduce the dog population. This method seeks to reduce the number of stray animals while avoiding the terrible practise of murdering them.
  • Rabies Control Measures: Rabies control measures, like as vaccination efforts, are another pillar of India’s reaction. Rabies is a lethal disease that is spread to humans via dog bites. Thus, preventing rabies is critical in addressing the stray dog problem.
  • Informal Measures: These include mass killings of dogs in areas such as Kerala, which is a contentious practise because it is frequently brutal and does not address the underlying causes of the problem. Other methods include prohibiting stray dogs from entering colonies or feeding them in public.

Why address the issue of stray dog attacks?

  • Increases the vulnerability of the poor: The unequal burden of dog bites may also fall on those living in urban slums, which are often located near dumping dumps.
  • The growth in such attacks speaks to underlying issues such as a lack of serviced cheap urban housing for all, a lack of safe livelihood opportunities, and inappropriate solid waste management.”

Feeling for the stray

  • Stray dogs are sentient social beings capable of feeling pain, anxiety, and delight when abandoned. Their abandonment has been greatly influenced by urban living patterns.
  • Abused: They are frequently victims of neglect, abuse, and abandonment, and are forced to survive on the streets in difficult conditions.
  • Neglected community guardians: Stray dogs can function as community guardians by warning us of potential hazards and providing emotional support to humans.

Way forward

  • Improve waste management: Efficient management of solid waste can help reduce the availability of food for stray dogs and limit their population growth.
  • Increase vaccination and sterilisation: To control the stray dog population and the spread of rabies, ABC and immunisation programmes should be performed in a more organised and effective manner.
  • Encourage appropriate feeding practises: Regulating feeding near bakeries and restaurants, as well as increasing waste management in public spaces, can lower the carrying capacity of the environment for stray dogs and lessen dog crowding in some regions.
  • Create a national policy: A comprehensive national policy that addresses the issue of stray dogs and their management in a more methodical and compassionate manner is required.
  • Stop horrific brutality towards dogs: Stopping gruesome cruelty towards dogs is a critical step towards building a more humane and just management of the stray dog problem.
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