Get involved in YOUR city and locality - Improve Your World
Get involved in YOUR city and locality - Improve Your World
Get involved in YOUR city and locality 
Improve Your World Home | About Us | Sitemap | Search | Contact Us 

  Home >> Animal Issues - Stray Dogs >> Animal Birth Control   responsible for decline in human rabies cases


ABC* responsible for decline in human rabies cases

*Animal Birth Control  

Dr. S.  Chinny  Krishna  

The bond between man and dog had its beginning 12-14 millennia ago somewhere in Eurasia where a reciprocal relationship between them first emerged. Provided with scraps of food when approaching the early encampments and settlements of man, the wolf soon became a frequent and welcome visitor, warning man of imminent danger and later assisting him in the hunt for wild animals. Thus began the domestication of the dog and the establishment of a bond between man and animals that has no equal.  Today, man violates that bond by allowing dogs to breed excessively and then abandoning them in great numbers, thus creating hazards for the dogs themselves as well as a considerable health risk to human society.  All too often, authorities confronted with the problems caused by these dogs have turned to mass destruction in the hope of finding a quick solution, only to discover that the destruction had to continue, year after year, with no end in sight. Moreover, by reducing temporarily the population of straying dogs, the authorities had improved the chances of survival of the remainder and provided fresh opportunities for newly-abandoned dogs. It is now becoming recognised that removal of surplus dogs cannot solve the problem unless combined with other measures such as registration and neutering of dogs and education of the public (1)   

At a certain population density the birth rate and the death rate become equal, the population comes to an equilibrium, population growth levels off.  This more realistic description of population growth is referred to as logistic growth.  The upper limit at which population growth levels off is called the carrying capacity of the environment.  Each habitat has a specific carrying capacity for each species.   This specific carrying capacity essentially depends on the availability, distribution and quality of the resources (shelter, food, water) for the species concerned.  The density of a population of higher vertebrates (including dogs) is almost always near the carrying capacity of the environment.  Any reduction in population density through additional mortality is rapidly compensated by better reproduction and survival.  In other words, when dogs are removed, the survivors’ life expectancy increases because they have better access to the resources, and there is less competition for resources. (2) (3) (4) 

In 1964, appalled by the horrific way the Corporation of Madras was killing street dogs, the Blue Cross of India began to study this issue. We were surprised to learn that the Madras Corporation - at 300 years one of the oldest Corporations in the world - started its catch-and-kill programme in 1860. Dogs regarding which complaints were received were often shot on the street and the complaints generally were about dogs which were biters and, therefore, suspected to be rabid. Section 218 of  The Madras City Municipal Corporation Act of 1919 authorised catching and killing any dog on the street which did not have a licence tag. S. Theodore Baskaran, the former Post Master General of Tamil Nadu states, and I quote: “In the early 1970s, the number of stray dogs destroyed by the Corporation was so high that the Central Leather Research Institute, Madras, designed      products – such as neckties and wallets – from dog skins” (5).  The number of dogs being killed by the Corporation continued to rise after this period. So did the number of dogs on the street and so did the number  of cases of human rabies deaths.    

Click here to read more on this report

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner