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The reach of the animal kingdom is not confined to forests only. A few species of wild animals and birds have the propensity of being domesticated as per human liking. Such animals are treated as friends of human beings and are termed domestic animals. Dogs, monkeys, donkeys, cats, pigs, and a few more, belong to such a category. Out of these, dogs, cats and monkeys are, generally, the most sought-after pets which can be found in many households. In every religion and mythology, feeding animals and looking after them is a canon to be followed. That is why many people go to the temples, markets, and corners of the street to feed the animals like dogs and monkeys who have permanently left their jungle abode. This is considered to be a holy task by our religious scriptures.

  1. Dogs
    They are kept as pets in the families and are treated with love and care by all. But a large number of these animals are not so lucky and find refuge in the empty spaces within the premises of any locality or human habitat. They are dependent on kitchen waste, mainly for food thrown by the residents. They are not considered to be of much use by the inhabitants and are left unattended. On the other hand, they are seen as a source of nuisance by many who run after cyclists, car drivers, and even pedestrians, making their lives miserable. Many times, this ends in dog bites too. According to a report compiled by the Health Department of Uttar Pradesh in 2018, dog bites have proved to be a big public health problem that has affected more than 27 lakh people every year.1 According to a study of 2015, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 20,847 people died of rabies in India. This number is against the total of 59,000 in the world.2 The situation has not shown any remarkable improvement yet. Furthermore, in the same year, 2018, district Sitapur of U.P. witnessed the worst kind of fear lurking in the minds of the local inhabitants related to the brutal mauling of over a dozen children by the feral dogs. The place nearby the main city, namely Khairabad, and the adjacent villages was badly affected for a couple of months. Similar incidents took place in the year 2021 in Lucknow city. These are some examples, but the fact is that the brutal attack on children and old people comes pouring in off and on in various cities of the whole of India. As per the estimation of Lucknow Nagar Nigam in 2018, about 70,000 street dogs were roaming here and there in the city of Lucknow only. Recently, in Lucknow, an aged lady was mauled to death by a ferocious dog of Pitbull variety in her home. The sudden and heartrending killing of small kids and old people in the cities and villages by feral dogs has once again raised the old, and still unanswered question regarding the human-animal conflict, especially in urban settings. The pertinent issue is whether both can co-exist peacefully on this earth and if so, what should be done in short and long courses?
    The problem of feral dogs
    One important aspect of the feral dog's problem is related to the unchecked growth of their population which is detrimental to the peaceful living of the inhabitants. According to a report tabled in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, in the first week of August 2022, the number of dogs on India's streets has declined from 1.71 crores in 2012 to 1.53 crore in 2019. This amounts to a 10% reduction, between 2012 and 2019. In Uttar Pradesh, this decline is 21 lakh, steeper than the All-India decline.4 For this purpose, sterilization of stray dogs is essential. In this regard, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 specify that stray dogs have to be sterilized, identified, and relocated. According to G Taru Sharma, a senior scientist in the animal physiology department at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) says that this exercise is not being done properly. In their view, "Sterilization and relocation were outsourced to private players, and stringent checks were not done". He suggests that this exercise must be conducted with the efficacy of a vaccination program for optimum results.5 In urban areas, this work is the responsibility of the local municipal bodies which are already starved of sufficient funds, manpower, and other resources. For example, there are two vehicles and 6 employees in the cattle catching team in Lucknow city.6 Obviously, this number is very meager considering the wide expanse of the city. Moreover, they are not equipped with the latest gadgets and vans as are available in the western world. In such a situation, it is a difficult job for street dogs to arrange their daily food. They depend mainly on kitchen waste as a feed for their hungry stomach. But the available amount is insufficient. Many of the feral dogs hunt for animal waste generated by the illegal meat shops opened here and there without getting a license from the municipal corporations. Sometimes, these shops are forcefully closed by the municipal authorities and the dogs remain hungry due to a lack of options. In such situations, they become violent. Besides these, there are other reasons also for feral dogs becoming violent. Recently, an old widow was killed by her pet, a Pitbull dog, whom she kept on the top floor of the building without getting a proper license from the appropriate authorities. Pitbull are not a domestic kind of dog, as per the experts. Like wild animals, they also need open spaces to walk and run without hindrances. Their pent-up anger takes the shape of violent activity, and innocent people suffer. In this context, it is worth mentioning here that in many big cities, unlicensed pet breeding centers are running without obtaining a proper license from municipal corporations. Their staff is generally untrained and is in the business of selling ferocious breeds without training the masters and the dogs.7 Lastly, the role of residents also plays a key part. In every household. Waste kitchen material is available, but it is thrown in the mix of other wastes and becomes not eatable. Further, if most of the residents adopt one or two stray dogs for feeding purposes only, the dogs will not sleep hungry. Their violent instinct will also be under control.
  2. Monkeys
    The terror of monkeys in urban households is a common phenomenon in India. They enter the houses in a group and eat whatever is available, destroy things, tear apart the papers, clothes, etc. For some time, they ransack the house for free will, and often attack the person who dares to challenge them. An important reason for their strange behavior is ascribed to be the continuous felling of trees which gives them shelter, food material, and everything they want. Since monkeys survive on fruits and other eatables which come under the vegetation category, the loss of trees in the surroundings has virtually created a vacuum for them. They are also seen inside the premises of holy shrines where they get enough food material including fruits. On complaints raised by the local citizens, the forest department sends langurs, another variety of apes, to make the monkeys move away. But this appears to be a temporary solution and a costly one. Since humans have destroyed their habitats by wantonly cutting trees and have raised concrete jungles in their places, it is the duty of the local administration, municipal bodies, and the forest department to plant trees as far as possible in and around the cities, so that the monkeys could get a new place of their liking to live and survive. As a solution to this nagging problem, the sterilization of monkeys is also suggested by the authorities. But once again the lack of human and financial resources are big impediments in this way. In this context, a new beginning has been made by the local administration in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh where a monkey forest is proposed to be set up in Umbria village of the Bakshi ka Talab tehsil near the city. This will comprise 6 acres of land. Similarly, such types of forests will be developed on the four corners of the city. In these forests, fruit-bearing plants will also be planted.8 If implemented properly, this scheme will go a long way in controlling the menace of stray monkeys in urban areas.
  3. Pigs
    In the urban landscape, one often finds the hounds of pigs roaming freely on the streets and digging into the heaps of municipal waste lying at some corner of a service road. Their appearance is dirty, and they often carry disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Though the special communities rearing these animals keep them in separate places which are, generally, on the outskirts of the locality, the owners let these animals go scot-free during the daytime to fend for themselves in search of food. Most of the time, the municipal authorities feel helpless except resort to issuing challans and imposing petty fines on the owners. This is a big nuisance for the local inhabitants and the local bodies have yet to find viable solutions to this problem.


The problem of stray animals like dogs and monkeys and pigs, in particular, has assumed larger proportions over the years. The growing urbanization at the cost of cutting trees is a major cause. But at the same time, the insensitivity of human beings is also an important factor. For example, the residents of any locality are prone to throwing away the residue of their kitchen waste along with other household waste. If such kitchen waste which consists of eatables is distributed amongst the street dogs, roaming cows, etc., they will not remain hungry. Experts point out that hunger, if not taken care of, triggers violence in them which culminates in extremely dangerous activities including attacking or killing children, old men, and women particularly. To check this vicious problem, no piecemeal effort will change the situation. For this, we need a holistic approach which will comprise human behavioral change, sterilization of stray animals, animal health care facilities, and putting a restraint on unlicensed pet care centers, etc. Moreover, the municipal bodies that are primarily responsible for attending to the problem, must be equipped with enough manpower and financial resources. The staff on duty should be well-trained with the state-of-the-art techniques and latest gadgets for this purpose. In any democratic country, the need for watchdogs and oversight is a must. Apart from their presence at the official levels, civil society must play its part as a vigilant entity to help the citizens by acting as a bridge between the government machinery and the people at large. Nobody should forget this dictum that in our universe, every living being has to follow the principle of coexistence. Nobody can survive on their own. That should always guide lawmakers to formulate policies and laws to address this problem.


  1. Brajendra K. Parashar, Dog bites affect over 27 lakh people in Uttar Pradesh per year, Hindustan Times, May 20, 2018.
  2. HT Correspondent, Sterilization can help curb attacks, say, experts, Hindustan Times, May 3, 2018.
  3. "सड़क पर घूम रहे हैं 70,000 श्वान", दैनिक जागरण, 5 मई,2018.
  4. 18 lakh fewer stray dogs in 7yrs.and the 1.53 crore still on streets, The Indian Express, Aug 3, 2022.
  5. HT Correspondent, Sterilization can help curb attacks, say, experts, Hindustan Times, May 3, 2018.
  6. सड़क पर घूम रहे हैं 70,000 श्वान, दैनिक जागरण, मई 5,2018.
  7. HT Correspondent, Unlicensed pet breeding centers to be shut down, Hindustan Times, Jul 15, 2022.
  8. बीकेटी में छह एकड़ में बनेगा वानर वन, दैनिक जागरण, जुलाई 4,2022.

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