Nowhere is there the stray dog problem worse than in India.
How bad is it? There aren't recent records, but a 2009 survey put the number at more than 260,000 in Delhi, a metropolitan area that includes 22 million people. Add to that the fact that few of these dogs are fixed, and scavenging for food, whether from the trash or from residents, is quite easy, and you're looking at a full blown dog population explosion.
So New Delhi authorities have decided to enlist the pups in a new municipal plan, called the "May I Help You?" security force, to promote safety in public places in New Delhi.
Image via Associated Press
"If these dogs are going to roam the NDMC [New Delhi Municipal Corp] area, they might as well work," the civic body's chairman Jalaj Shrivastava told The Hindu
newspaper on Saturday.
Their plan is to adopt the strays, train them, vaccinate and fix them, and give them regular, nutritious food. According to Al Jazeera, 40 trainers have already been deployed to round up the dogs and begin the process. Authorities are as yet unsure how many dogs would be needed for the force.
Image via Al Jazeera
It is the New Delhi authorities' hope that, aside from being good for the dogs, the plan will also be good for humans. India, along with its stray dog problem, also has the worst rabies problem in the world. According to the WHO, 31,000 human deaths occur annually due to rabies, and 20,000 of those are in India, primarily due to the prevalence of stray dogs. Getting these dogs healthy, trained and off the streets will hopefully lower the rates of dog bites, and thus rabies, in Delhi.
The plan has also received a thumbs up from India's animal rights community. "This will engage the street dogs with society and also benefit people," Radha Unnikrishnan, an animal rights activist, told the Hindustan Times
. Hopefully the program will provide a helpful case study for other cities hoping to mitigate their stray dog problem.
h/t and featured photo via Al Jazeera.