Give the stray dogs a bad name, and then hype up the hysteria that already prevails against them. This gives a boost to the demand for their mass killing
In a recent advertisement, a commercial undertaking, which provides free online classified advertisements in India for used goods, shows a man lying injured following an accident caused by dogs chasing his bike. The advertisement is deplorable because it would only serve to further hype up the hysteria that prevails against stray dogs, which in turn, can give a boost for the demand for their mass killing, which will be against the spirit of the Constitution, the law of the land besides being totally counterproductive in terms of reducing the population of street dogs.
Article 51A(g) of the Constitution lists one of the fundamental duties of citizens as protecting and improving “the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living beings.” Are stray dogs not living beings? If so, do they not merit compassion? One may argue that, though they are living creatures, they chase bikes and cause accidents. But how many accidents are caused by stray dogs chasing bikes and how many by rash and negligent driving by humans? The latter overwhelmingly outnumber the former. Then why did the advertisement attribute the accident to dogs and not speeding by a spoilt brat high on drugs or liquor? Or a bus driver racing another bus, or a truck driver with a fake driving license?
Had the persons preparing and/or approving the advertisement shared the prejudice many harbor against stray dogs and, therefore, automatically thought of the latter when working on it? Or did they hate the canines so much that they saw in the advertisement an opportunity to vent their hatred? The fact remains that their product will reinforce the hands of those who want an immediate and mass killing of stray dogs. This, in turn, will undermine the efforts by the Animal Welfare Board of India, and non-governmental organizations committed to animal welfare, to reduce the number of stray dogs by implementing the provisions of the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules. Promulgated in December 2001, the Rules are the law of the land.
Killing stray dogs will be not only in violation of the law but totally counter-productive. As pointed out in theGuidelines for Dog Population Management jointly announced by the World Health Organization and the World Society for the Protection of Animals in May 1990, “Removal or killing of dogs should never be considered as the most effective way of dealing with the problem of surplus dogs in the community; it has no effect on the root cause of the problem, which is over-population of dogs.” In its Technical Report Series 931, WHO's Expert Consultation on Rabies pointed out in 2004, “Since the1960s, ABC programme coupled with rabies vaccination have been advocated as a method to control urban street male and female populations and ultimately human rabies in Asia.”
Under the ABC programme, dogs are picked up from an area, sterilized and vaccinated against rabies and returned to the same area. Being territorial, they keep unsterilized and unvaccinated dogs out of their areas and the authorities can concentrate on sterilizing and vaccinating in new areas until all stray dogs of a city or district are covered. On the hand, killing all dogs in an area would enable unsterilized and unvaccinated dogs from other areas to come in and the authorities will have to come back again and again to the same area to kill the new arrivals. This is precisely why, until the promulgation of ABC Rules, the number of stray dogs continued to increase in India despite, in some cases, nearly 140 years of relentless mass murder!
The Advertising Standards Council of India should consider the issue and send out a general circular against featuring advertisements projecting animals in a manner that is liable to intensify hatred toward them.