In Defense of Humans


Wasim Bhat

In a manner of speaking the city has gone to the dogs, literally. They rule the streets of the city especially towards the dusk as the light fades. Snarling and barking, dogs are an all too familiar sight in the lanes and by lanes of this city of yore. With around a hundred thousand strong population and growing robustly it has raised the obvious specter of conflict for space and territory.

Dogs and humans both have strong territorial instincts. This in dogs is expressed by the marking of territory by spraying urine that contains pheromones and in humans by the building of high walls in specific and in the idea of private property in the general. This territorial instinct has come to a head in a city that has a 294 square kilometer area with a human population density of around 556 per square kilometer.

At it seems of now, dogs have a license to kill and the administration is sleeping over the many incidents where people, some of them young children have been mauled very seriously by packs of dogs attacking in tandem. In contexts where dog populations increase at very fast rates, it becomes imperative to control this rate of growth, otherwise this might result in damaging scenarios.  In the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2004, there were 5,868 dog attacks on humans, resulting in 5,770 working days lost in sick leave. Compare this to a city like Srinagar where the numbers of people reporting dog bites is already over 100 a day. This makes for 3000 dog bite cases in just a month.

‘To sterilize or not to sterilize’, is the question that has the administration in knots. The sterilization process and the creation of pounds advocated by animal rights organizations and activists will be a logistical nightmare and will involve expending millions of tax payers money, some of which has already been spent on creating dog pounds on the outskirts of the city. Whether there is capacity to undertake such a mammoth exercise is another question altogether for a city administration already grappling with gargantuan issues of garbage disposal, illegal constructions and traffic congestion.

In many ways the packs of dogs in the city are similar to the packed rows of cars and commuter vehicles on our roads. Both are in the main the result of our changed engagement with our environment. Our consumerist, commodity oriented lifestyles dictate not sustained and sustainable use but packaged and disposable use. These canine multitudes feed and grow on the mounds of garbage that are tactically placed in almost every city locality, whether it is areas in the historical down town or the posh civil lines. The municipality just picks up these small mounds once in a few days and makes an even bigger mound, shall we say a mountain of garbage elsewhere.

In sum, man’s best friend, the canis familiaris, wants to survive and propagate and so do we. We cannot grudge them this right, but we reserve the right to defend ourselves, our friends and our family. Even in the face of laws, which as of now seem to favour heavily; the dogs of this city.       


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