American inventor Thomas Edison had thrown light on the nature of civilisation when he once said, “Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” This savagery is being played out in the streets of Bangalore. The brutality with which street dogs in the city are being captured, tortured and culled since last fortnight is shocking. This frenzy is a retaliation to the mauling of two children, in separate incidents, by a pack of street dogs. While the grief of the families of the deceased is great, what is worrying is that the outrage against all stray dogs has the total backing of the Karnataka government. In fact, it has been the chief instigator of this pogrom against the animals.
The state government has responded to the gruesome deaths of the two children in a knee-jerk manner. The Karnataka Health Minister has vowed that “all dogs moving in packs... will be put to sleep immediately”. The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, should be read out to him and his colleagues immediately. The law forbids the killing of street dogs unless they are afflicted by a fatal condition of rabies or other such illnesses. Even in such cases, euthanasia is to be conducted in a compassionate — in the least painful — manner possible. It is well-known that dogs are one of the most affectionate and intelligent animals that live with humans. They usually turn aggressive only when threatened or hungry. One must not lose sight of the fact that the aggression of the ‘deadly dogs’ in Bangalore was not normal behaviour and is unlikely to be repeated on a regular basis.
If the rules drafted in 2001 had been followed to the book, street dogs would have been sterilised in a phased manner, given medical attention and shelter when required and humane education imparted to the public on the way to treat these animals. But even though this has been done only in a haphazard manner, let us at least not stoop to become fiends who, because of two instances of tragic anomaly, go on a bout of blood-lust against an animal that is not collectively guilty.