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Nandita Subba Rao on Common Questions about Streeties

Nandita Subba Rao got asked the same questions on street dogs (streeties) so many times, she thought she would put down the most commonly asked questions for their benefit. And so well done, too ! Empathetic and crisp, we pinched it from her blog and added a little bit , so here they are :

Q1: Why are there so many street dogs?

A: This is a “prosperous city” problem. Villages do not have this problem. In cities, there is greater prosperity -> more food -> more wasted food > more trash -> this attracts cockroaches, rats, cats and dogs.

Q2: What are the problems we face with them?

A: They bark at night; bite; attack vehicles; overturn trash.

Q3: So, if you don’t like dogs but have to put up with them, how do you accept them?

A: Let’s break this down into different points:

  • Segregate your waste. Here are some tips.

  • We cannot prevent them from barking at night, and that is a good thing — because of the security it offers. Burglars hesitate to target streets or homes with dogs.

  • They may bark or turn aggressive or irritable because of hunger, itching, fights over mate, fights over food, protecting puppies, new person, new dog, familiar person and dog at unusual time. Try deworming them so they are not uncomfortable.

  • You can ignore them, but it is easier to extend a hand of friendship, and turn them into your allies. Whether with dogs or human beings, the path of friendship is easier than the path of confrontation!

Q4: But what if they bite?

A: Dogs typically get aggressive or bite only if they feel threatened. Often, they bark because they themselves are scared — but they have no other way to express themselves! Anyway, it is best to get them vaccinated — this gives us a level of confidence to deal with them.

  • Please be aware that in Bangalore, the vaccination for bite victims (if bitten by a street dog) is free at BBMP health centres; no need to spend Rs. 2K each time. First shot can be taken within a few hours (unless the bite is around the neck, or extremely deep, or very extensive, in which case it’s advisable to get it ASAP).

  • If you live in Bangalore: Take a photo of the biting dog and call the BBMP hotline. They will send a van to pick up the dog and keep it under observation for a week. If it is rabid, it will anyway die on its own. If it shows no signs of rabies, they vaccinate it and release it at the location from where it was picked up. If it is not neutered, they neuter and vaccinate it before release. UPDATE: Effective 15th August, 2020, Bangalore has a Rabies Hotline at +916364893322. It currently functions from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Do not panic — A dog bite is easier to manage than other mishaps, such as a snake bite or a vehicle accident. If a snake bites you, it’s important to keep still and get immediate attention, since you may not know which snake it is — and the hospital should have the right antivenin. In a vehicle accident, even two seconds of impact can do a lot of damage. With a dog bite, wash the wound well with soap and water for ten minutes and then proceed to get your shots.

  • Please refer to these tips.

Q5: What if the dog is rabid?

A: Most dogs are not rabid. If they are, they typically die within 10 days of biting.

Q6: This dog is drooling. Is it rabid?

A: Some dogs are afflicted by an airborne viral disease called Canine Distemper (CD), which causes them to have a “chewing gum jaw”. As a result, they cannot close their mouth fully and therefore drool. This has nothing to do with rabies. CD is not contagious to human beings. Just like human viral diseases (like chicken pox), it is contagious between dogs for up to four months. CD vaccines are available and usually administered to pet dogs.

Q7: What happens if you send them all away?

A: There are two issues — legal and practical.

  • Legally, there is a Supreme Court order of 2001 (created by the Animal Welfare Board of India) that disallows relocation because of the imbalance it causes. For details, please refer to the circular at

  • Practically:

— Rats and burglars have a field day.

— Also, “sending away” a dog will just create a “vacancy” for other dogs to enter. Slowly, new ones come in because we always have ample garbage. Also, “circular relocation” by miscreants is very common — the dogs of A are sent to B; from B to C, and so on. Someone tried to send away some 10 dogs in HSR Layout in September 2018; the area is now saddled with 40 new dogs, none of them neutered!

— Many people in our society eat the meat of larger animals like goats, pigs and cows. This leaves large bones for disposal. All the crows and pigeons and rats in the world cannot finish eating these leftovers, and they take forever to decompose. When dogs eat them, they are processed overnight and can be turned into useful manure in three months.

Q8: How to behave before a dog?

A: Do not attempt to run, throw stones, or threaten with a stick. Ignore it or offer a treat instead. Please refer to these tips.

Q9: Overall, what can we do?

A: If we vaccinate all of them, we feel safer. If we neuter all of them, we reduce the population gradually. BBMP offers a free ABC (animal birth control) and ARV (anti-rabies vaccination) program for street dogs.

Q10: What are the benefits of neutering?

A: Apart from population control, there is less aggression — no more fights over mates or protecting puppies.

  • The neutered dogs typically prevent other new dogs from coming in.

  • Also, when a dog is neutered, it gets an anti-rabies vaccination, so that is good for human safety.

Q11: How to identify if a dog is neutered or not?

A: Notched ear(s), like this.

Q12: Dogs are killing cats in my neighbourhood; what do we do?

While it is very sad to witness this, it is a part of the balance in nature. We feel happy when the dogs kill rats around the place, but we feel sad when they kill squirrels, pigeons or cats. As human beings, we are able to teach other human beings that it is okay to kill mosquitoes but not okay to kill other human beings. Unfortunately, we cannot “train” animals about their instincts and tell them that they should kill rats but not other squirrels, for example. Also, please see the next question.

Q13: How come we have been witnessing an increase only in the dog population but not in the cat population?

A: Despite the fact that cats multiply twice as fast as dogs, cats attack other cats so viciously that many of them succumb. My “cat expert” friends tell me that an alpha male bully cat can fatally injure about 100 cats in a year. Some cats also get killed by dogs. In the case of dogs, however, while a pack of dogs may maul a new dog, it’s usually not fatal, unless it’s a small, weak or young dog. In forest areas, the dog population also stays constant because they have a predator in the form of leopards. In the city, we need to control their population via ABC. Also, if you think about it, the increase in the dog population has been proportionate to the increase in the human population!

Q14: Why have the dogs been so much more noisy during the Covid lockdown?

A: A lot of animals have been displaced at this time. Many dogs used to get food from eateries located on busy streets. With all the eateries shut, they have moved to inner roads (with habitation) in search of food. Even with some eateries reopening, only take-away is allowed, no dine-in. As a result, there are no leftovers here.

The dogs often forage at night, and the existing dogs protest that a newcomer is entering their territory. (Even human societies protest when immigrants come in!) The sound of the fighting is obviously amplified at night. The best way to remedy this is to feed the new dogs, preferably back at the familiar main street. Once life returns to “normal” (whenever that is), they will go back to their familiar place.

A well-fed dog is less likely to go out and forage for food. The solution for everyone to sleep well at night is to ensure that the dogs are not hungry. And that is not surprising — if you look at the most basic of human fights even for human beings, it has been over food. Then comes everything else — shelter, partners and families, territory ownership, money, power. For example, consider wartime, cyclones, earthquakes and other calamities — people are looking to grab and hoard food. It’s the same sense of desperation for dogs that do not have enough to eat.

There is a popular belief that biscuits are okay as food for dogs. Biscuits contain refined flour and refined sugar (both with a high glycemic index), which cause an immediate bloat but later leave you hungry. They aren’t good for either the dogs or us. Everything in moderation. (Try eating three packets of biscuits and no real food, and you will know what I mean.) Food quality is important. A wholesome meal with 20-30% fat will help them stay satiated.

Yes, a lot of people have complained about the dogs disturbing their sleep.While I agree that this is a nuisance, it’s also comforting that burglars keep off such areas. Ms. Maneka Gandhi’s office once advised me to wear ear plugs, use white noise, or use heavy drapes — all of which are helpful.

Q15: Why are dogs suddenly entering our gated community? They never came in earlier.

A: If they are suddenly coming in now, it can only mean one of three things: They are not getting enough food at their usual spots, or there is a new source of food inside your complex, and/ or there is some new prey. If they are getting fed as before, it is likely be the latter two reasons. And the same holds good for cats — if you suddenly see a lot of cats around, it means there is a source of food for them inside.

Remember that all these animals are foragers and hunters. If you have a new pile of garbage, the rats and crows will get to it, and this attracts cats and dogs too. If you suddenly start feeding some cats or dogs in the complex, the dogs outside will smell it and they too will come along. And they may want to chase the cats too. It’s not practical to have a board saying Entry for cats only; no entry for dogs!

Therefore, if the dogs are fed outside the complex, it may be better to do the same with the cats, so that there is no attraction for the dogs to come in. If there is a designated spot within the complex for feeding the dogs, it may help to have the cat feeding just before or just after, so that there is no attraction for the dogs to come in at a different time slot.

Finally (this is a not a question): There is a little confusion here — several people think I am active with ABC and ARV to help the dogs. The dogs have not asked for ABC and ARV; they would be quite happy to multiply! So, to clarify, I do this for the benefit of human beings!


Picture of Aparna Gulvady feeding dogs at Cubbon Park

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