The New York Times today looks at India's problem with stray dogs, which the paper describes as a "menace" in its headline. That's putting it mildly. The details are enough to horrify: Tens of millions of strays occupy the country, and they bite millions of people each year. On a random day in New Delhi, hundreds stream into a public hospital for treatment, having been bitten on their way home from work, or even in their homes. And in many cases the bites can prove deadly: Rabies kills 20,000 here each year, or more than a third of rabies casualties globally. (Dog bites cause 99% of those deaths.)
People are forced to cope in unusual ways, reports the Times: Bikers pack their pockets with stones to hurl at would-be attackers; runners arm themselves with bamboo sticks. The invasion is helped along by a 2001 law that bars the killing of dogs, and the fact that animal welfare advocates are loudly against euthanasia. There's also the problem of untended trash, mounds of which feed the dogs. Eliminate the dogs, some fear, and the rats will take their place. Some areas are reacting in unusual ways: Mumbai intends to conduct a dog census by having ink-toting motorcyclists mark each dog's fur. But many experts say nothing will change until a canine contraceptive vaccine currently being developed becomes available.