QUESTION: Do you love stray dogs?
PERSON 1: Of course, they are so cute, loving and adorable. The people who are against stray dogs are insensitive, horrible, and cruel.
PERSON 2: I just cannot stand stray dogs. They are a menace to society, they spread disease and rabies. They bite and kill children and elderly. They need to be kept off the streets. They are a damn nuisance.
In India, and maybe elsewhere too, there are two distinct sets of people. Those who love stray dogs and those who despise them. The two groups are at loggerheads all the time with NGOs and animal welfare bodies supporting the stray dog lovers. What are the ground realities when it comes to stray dogs?
Every locality in every Indian city or town has a large number of stray dogs. Biting unsuspecting people is one part of the story. Let me start with my own experience. I love dogs and I have my own Labrador who goes by the name of Maximus. An absolutely well behaved dog, he seldom barks, defecates at a designated spot within the locality at one end of a park meant for dogs, and in his nine years of existence, he has never hurt anyone. A friendly chap, all in all.
Now for the stray dogs in my residential locality, there are several. Three or four of them are permanently resting outside my house in the parking lot, at times sleeping on the roofs of cars parked there and in the process damaging the car roof which caves in because of their weight, not to mention the scratch marks on the bonnets and roofs of the car. Whenever I spot a stray dog sitting atop my car, I shoo it away. Recently, I bought a special car roof cover that makes it extremely uncomfortable for the stray dogs to relax atop the car. When I had bought it, I realised that the spikes on it were too sharp. My intention was not to hurt or maim stray dogs; it was to dissuade them to sit on top of my cars. I patiently cut off the sharp edges and made sure that the dogs were not accidentally hurt.
Even though I have solved one problem, there is a bigger problem at hand. During the day, when I am working on my computer, there is a stray dog which barks continuously near my house. It’s as though it is possessed. Every day, during the afternoons, it barks for hours at a stretch, refusing to give up. If that is not enough, just after midnight, a few dogs take turns to bark outside my bedroom window in the parking lot. The barks continue for hours, disturbing my sleep to a great extent. This has been going on for years and despite the several complaints I have made to the Residents Welfare Association, nothing has been done. The RWA is helpless in this matter. Imagine if someone is unwell or someone is old, the constant barking can drive them up the wall!