On August 6th, the U.S. based New York Times published a very misguided and biased report regarding Indian Street Dogs. This report is misleading to the Indian public, and is a misleading representation of India to the international community.
Countless individuals are working tirelessly to overcome the street dog issue, and in order to succeed we must have public support. This New York Times article is perpetuating undue public fear for the street dog, setting our work back. For this reason we are urging the New York Times to publish our counter article, where we can show the world the true image of the Street Dog.
The New York Times article can be read here:
Many professionals are working throughout India to overcome the issue of the street dog population. Mr. Harris’s article has made the situation worse by unduly perpetuating fear and will undoubtedly set our work back- for that we would like an opportunity to overcome this setback by publishing our science-based counter article.
India’s street dog situation is a very complicated issue that cannot be overcome simply by killing all the dogs. This being the reason professional biologists, ethologists, lawyers, and welfare advocates are properly trained to remedy the problem. A major aspect of overcoming this issue is to develop public support for the street dog, in order to further the adoption of India’s indigenous breed, encourage local spay/neuter and vaccination campaigns, and to reduce the purchase of pedigrees (which will bring additional dogs into the city, many ending up abandoned on the street, adding to the street population).
We work hard to gain this challenging public support, together Indian advocacy groups are creating efforts to overcome the stigma of India’s native breed. Mr. Harris’s article has set our work back substantially, by unduly perpetuating fear of the street dog, and offering much misguided information in the form unscientific anecdotes.
We the undersigned, many of us who have directly worked with the street dog issue for several years, feel Mr. Harris’s article is biased. For this reason, we insist your respectful paper allow us to publish a counter article written by professionals who work to overcome the street dog situation and who can offer the public a realistic interpretation of the issue. And thereby, attempt to overcome the fall back that this New York Times’ article has caused for our work, and consequently the public’s health and safety. The New York Times is an honorable, well-respected media outlet, and we are certain you would like the public to be offered an unbiased, science-based perspective that will assist in overcoming the street dog situation rather than leave the public with a fear-mongering perspective that is only worsening the issue.
We would like to offer these points:
• We, as public animal advocates and professional animal workers, are fully aware of the public health concerns and safety issues of street dog populations. This being a significant reason we have devoted our lives and free time working to overcome the issue. Our methods of work have come through scientific analysis and past successes, and we ask that NY Times respect our work by publishing our counter article describing the situation in a realistic and non-exaggerated manner.
• A large percentage of bites in India are from house dogs.
• A common animal behavior fact: streets dogs are typically fearful and rarely initiate an attack on humans. Street dogs attack out of fear and protection – when being kicked, harassed, or otherwise provoked. (This being one reason why perpetuating fear worsens the situation, people who are afraid of dogs are more likely to throw stones.) True- unprovoked attacks do happen, but not as often as Mr. Harris’s article would lead one to believe.
• Euthanasia of dogs in India is not the humane method seen in western countries, it is typically through the use of mass poisonings (a public safety concern in its own right) and beatings.
• Street dogs are not a mandatory nuisance as has been described in Mr. Harris's article- many street dogs are viewed as respectful community dogs. Furthermore, they are very intelligent, healthy breeds who make excellent family pets.
• Without public education, support, and cooperation, even with a mass killing of the dogs, as Mr. Harris has suggested, newly entering street dogs or newly abandoned pet dogs will be less likely to be brought in for spay/neuter/vaccination by the public, and the problem will only begin once again. Therefore it is imperative we have public support.
Thank you for accepting our signed petition on this urgent manner. And once again, we insist your respectful paper allow us to publish a counter article written by professionals who work to overcome the street dog situation and who can offer the public a realistic interpretation of the issue. And thereby, attempt to overcome the fall back that Mr. Harris’s article has caused for our work, and consequently the public’s health and safety.