23 Oct 2016
Kerala's war on dogs
Killings are often carried out by professional dog catchers, or by an angered mob, and the culling is getting more gruesome by the day.
This unseemly situation in Kerala is the result of a larger problem - that of street dogs in India.
Origins of the conflict
In 2015-2016, Kerala reported over 1 lakh incidents of stray dog bites which triggered a reaction from the people.
There are an estimated 2.5 lakh street dogs in Kerala which feed on garbage dumps across the state's towns and cities.
The killing drive intensified around two months ago when a pack of street dogs attacked and killed an elderly woman in a coastal town.
The anti-dog situation in Kerala
The wide spread anti-dog sentiment in Kerala has manifested itself in large billboards which show gruesome images of people bitten by stray dogs.
The local newspapers run alarmist cartoons showing vicious dogs and, vigilantly report seemingly every dog bite.
The problem of street dogs in India
Street dogs in India are a problem with over 30 million strays living in India.
While the government passed a law in 2001 mandating sterilization of stray dogs, implementation either suffered due to corruption, or due to states (like Kerala) not taking it seriously.
Experts on the matter say that the street dog problem persists due to poor collection of garbage in Indian cities.
Dogs have developed a fear of human beings
"Dogs in Kerala are in an absolute state of fright because of the killings. They have developed a suspicion of human beings," said a Kerala resident called Sumitha Suseelan who runs a weekly adoption drive for stray dogs.
The eradication drive
"We want Kerala's streets to be free of stray dogs," said Jose Maveli, the founder of Society for Eradication of Stray Dogs in Kerala. Mr. Maveli pays for 10 dog catchers in Kochi who killed over 300 street dogs last year.
The solution is not killing
Kishore Janardhanan, a veterinary surgeon at a government-run dog birth-control hospital in Kochi, said, "Even if you keep killing daily, you can never achieve the zero number. There is no easy, magic solution to the dog menace. The only scientific thing to do is sterilization."
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The magnitude of India's dog problem
It costs around $15 dollars to sterilize a dog and with over 30 million stray dogs in India, a solution through sterilization will take time because of the massive amount of money required.