Wagh Bakri's head dies: Has the stray dog menace reached its hilt? - Hindustan Times
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Wagh Bakri's head dies: Has the stray dog menace reached its hilt?

ByKriti Kambiri
Oct 23, 2023 07:57 PM IST

The recent death of businessman Parag Desai, due to an injury caused while escaping a pack of dogs, has renewed the discourse on the attacks by strays.

Many are shaken by the news of the death of Parag Desai, executive director of Wagh Bakri, on Sunday night, due to a brain haemorrhage caused after falling while trying to escape a pack of stray dogs (on October 15) near his residence on Ambali Road in Ahmedabad (Gujarat). Desai, 49, was out for his morning walk when the incident took place. Desai’s death has revived the concerns regarding the dog menace across the country.

The news of stray dogs attacking humans started trending on X yet again after the news of Parag Desai's demise.(Photo: Shutterstock (For representational purposes only))
The news of stray dogs attacking humans started trending on X yet again after the news of Parag Desai's demise.(Photo: Shutterstock (For representational purposes only))

Parag Desai, executive director of Wagh Bakri, died on October 22 at the age of 49.
Parag Desai, executive director of Wagh Bakri, died on October 22 at the age of 49.

This isn’t all. The deaths of an 11-year-old autistic child in Kannur (Kerala) and a 4-year-old in Hyderabad due to being mauled by street dogs, earlier this year, in separate incidents, have also lent momentum to the debate on whether the stray dog menace has reached its hilt?

Those advocating for animal rights are passionately pointing out that Desai’s death, while tragic, did not happen due to the dog menace, but due to the fact that he suffered a head injury. “It’s being made to seem like the dogs killed him but it was a grievous head injury,” says Geeta Seshamani, founder of Friendicoes SECA, Jangpura, adding, “It could have been a cyclist that startled him, or even a car or rowdies on the road. But since dogs or animals are involved, there comes a great deal of anger and desire to obliterate them, while calling their existence a ‘menace’.”

Seshamani believes that street dogs are community pets: “They survive by understanding body language. They know when to slink away and when to come forward. So one must understand their body language to react. The simplest way to treat a dog getting carried away is to look at them and tell them, ‘No! Bad dog! Stop it!’ in a clear voice. They know how to respond to commands. And if you’re still scared, just give them a wide berth. Don’t go too close and give them personal space. Just ignore them and they won’t bother you.”

The incidents of dog bites are being reported from across the country and Varuna Kaur, a Mumbai-based canine trainer and behaviourist, opines, “There should be some supervision from the government in terms of the ABC (Animal Birth Control) programs to manage and control the population of stray dogs. Right now, it’s simply going up unchecked, and if the animals are not neutered or spayed, this problem will continue.”

“Dogs are basically chasers and that instinct needs to be certainly curbed in an attacking situation,” informs Vidit Sharma, founder of Save A Stray, Noida, adding, “It’s easier said than done. But if a dog approaches you in an aggressive manner, one has to prevent the urge to run, hit, or show any fear. One way to deal with a dog in its attacking mode is to tactfully remain cool and stay composed... Stray dogs usually attack to scare humans when they are either hungry or hurt or getting tortured by a different human. So treating the strays with love and making them communal pets is another way to ensure that you forge a bond with them and ensure they recognise you.”

What to do when chased by a dog?

Running away from a dog will prove to be counterproductive, since it will give in to its chase instinct.(Illustration: Shutterstock)
Running away from a dog will prove to be counterproductive, since it will give in to its chase instinct.(Illustration: Shutterstock)

1. Do not run and/or scream

If a dog begins barking or chasing you, do not run away. This will make the dog see you as an intruder and give in to its instinct to chase. Instead, stand your ground and stay still. Screaming can make the dog’s adrenaline go higher and see it as a signal to attack, so avoid the urge.

2. Do not wave a stick in its face

A dog will interpret a stick as a threat and is more likely to go into attacking mode upon seeing a stick being waved at it. Hence, it’s better not to wave a stick at a dog and simply walk past. Also keep biscuits handy, especially if you have dogs around your residence. The dog will associate biscuits as a friendly gesture and recognise you as someone who feeds it.

3. Do not make direct eye contact

If you see a large pack of dogs, must check their level of alertness. If their ears are pricked, they are sitting straighter than usual or very still, it means they are interpreting you as an intruder and determining the level of threat you pose. In such a situation, do not make direct eye contact. Once you pass the dogs, do not keep looking back and walk straight. If you feel scared, use a different route.

In case a dog is in attacking mode, use your bag to protect your vital organs and stand straight to appear more imposing.(Illustration: Anurag Mehra/HT)
In case a dog is in attacking mode, use your bag to protect your vital organs and stand straight to appear more imposing.(Illustration: Anurag Mehra/HT)

4. Use a bag or any handy object to protect your vital organs

In case of an impending attack, use your bag or any object around you to protect your vital organs, like the stomach and neck. If the dog is ready to bite, it’s more likely to go against the protective shield and you’ll be able to save yourself from major injuries. If the dog still attacks you in a frenzy, try as much as possible to stay calm because the more you scream or fight, the more the dog will get further aggressive.

5. Make yourself seem large and imposing

Dogs respond to size and are more likely to be afraid of large-sized humans than small ones. When encountering a group of dogs that seem to attack, make yourself appear larger and imposing by standing straight, raising your hands over your head, and exuding confidence. If a dog can sense that it’s not scaring you, it’s more likely to back away.

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