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Stray Dogs, Adopted Dogs, Pet Dogs : Dog menace situation keeps getting complex in Gurgaon's posh colonies
The stray animal problems in the silicon city of Gurgaon comes back to haunt the citizens time and again. From Palam Vihar to DLF Phase 1, the problems of street animal nuances do not differ much in their plot and background. With the apathy of the local municipal bodies, with sympathetic animal lovers and a harassed common man – this issue has seen much debate and little action over the last few years.

Silicon city: Yet primitive problems

“It’s a shame that we even have to fight for these issues in a city that boasts of hosting the head offices of major multinational companies in India”, reads a comment from Alok Kumar on a merinews report about stray dog and simian problems in Sector 17 in 2013. Early in 2011, a Times of India report revealed that approximately 50 people get bitten everyday by stray dogs in Gurgaon (read here). Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) had started a movement every time aiming at removing the stray animals from roads of the city, but lack of proper planning resulted in failed efforts time and again. Even in an earlier article on merinews, Rakesh Kumar Jain, President, DLF Qutub Enclave RWA, expressed his anguish on the animal menace issue faced by residents. (read here)

Stray Dog Menace: Posh colony and harassed citizens

“Yesterday I had a terrible cold and I went to sleep at around 10:30 pm after taking a sleeping pill. You would not believe that inspite of this, I could not sleep due to the incessant ruckus created by 14 dogs just opposite my house. When I could not take it anymore, I was screaming at the dogs in the middle of the night,” says Jyoti Mahendru, a resident of DLF Block C, Gurgaon.

The story is not much different in the other part of the city in Palam Vihar. Most of the residents do not feel the same. Talking about the same, President of RWA, Palam Vihar, Sector 1, Satish Kumar Sodhani says, “stray dogs and pigs are a huge problem in the area. They create ruckus for drivers and dirty the place. We have complained a lot to the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) but no actions have been taken so far.”

Municipalty of Gurgaon (MCG) gives little option to find remedy

The Mayor of Gurgaon Vimal Yadav when asked as to what a person can do when faced with such problem said, “Anyone can give us a call at the toll free number (18001801817) and we would take care of the matter. Recently, I got a call from Sector 56 and we sent our people there. They caught hold of some strays and sent it to a place designated for them. I am trying to allocate a place in Kherki Dhaula for creating a dog pound but nothing much has progressed in the matter now. However, as far as I am concerned, all stray issues have been taken care of by us.”

A nurse in Gurgaon’s city hospital, on the condition of anonymity says, “Dog bite incidents have gone down significantly over the last few years. I will say the municipality has done a good job in removing most stray dogs from the city streets. However some do remain and they get aggressive especially in winters when they have smaller puppies to protect”

Animal lovers try to pitch in; but no proper framework

With no proper relocation system for stray dogs, and with very little sensitivity of the local municipality animal lovers take the work on themselves to protect the speechless living creatures. Amit Chaudhery, from People for Animals in Gurgaon says, “We have to accept the situation where we live in. We live in India and not Singapore or Switzerland and we have community animals. As citizens, we should sterilize them and provide vaccination. There are many of us, who would not love animals but there is no need to be cruel to them.”

Stray Dogs, Adopted Dogs, Animal Lovers and a very complex situation

While on a human perspective, one agrees with Amit’s statement, on a practical life few takes the ‘kindness’ too far. “The owner of the house opposite mine does not stay in the house and she houses 6 dogs in the house. There are 8 other dogs, who do not stay in the house but comes and leaves as per their will. Not only have the aggression, the noise that they make made my life really difficult. Every night, they start barking and this goes on for hours. I have requested the owner to keep these dogs inside her house or to take them to the farm house, where she lives but that hasn't worked out. To make matters worse, these are collared house and so we cannot call somebody to pick them up. It is becoming so bad that at times I feel that we would have to sell this house and move.”

She further added, “Some of the people claim to be extreme dog lovers and even I love dogs. I myself have a dog but one should not keep dogs when it is harming others peace of mind. The lady, opposite is doing a commendable job of taking care of these dogs but then one should also take care not to harm anyone else.” 

“We can take care of stray dogs but we can’t forcefully take away somebody’s adopted dog. They are pets of somebody”, says Anuj Raj who works with an NGO trying to relocate stray dogs in the city. But how many dogs can a resident adapt? How many pets can you keep? There is no clear rule from the Government, municipality or local authorities. A few RWAs who tried banning multiple pets within their gated complex had to face the ire of the residents. 

Some are harassed by animals, some by animal lovers : no middle path in sight

Sanjeeb Das, head of security, Cosmos Apartments in Palam Vihar says, “Ours is a gated society and we had massive issues of stray dogs even then. We tried chasing them away with our lathis one morning. But within a few minutes we had a resident complaining to police against us on the charge of cruelty to animals. We vouched to stay away from animals since then”. 

Confirming the issue, a police constable in Palam Vihar police station says, “We get all types of calls from all types of people. Some want us to take away their neighbour’s pet and some want us to chase away dogs at night. Then there are people who will complain against a neighbor or somebody who are chasing away dogs by throwing stones at the animals, like the one happened in Cosmos Apartments. As per prevention of cruelty to animals act, we are bound to look into such cases”

Even in DLF Phase I while Ms. Mahendru is being frustrated of the issue and contemplating a drastic move of selling off her property, her neighbor Ajay Khanna, another resident of Block C says, “Personally, I do not face any problem with dogs. I love them and I feel that people should be educated regarding them. Moreover, they are not stray dogs as they have been adopted by someone in our society. These people not only take care of them but also look after their health. I feel the correct approach is to neuter dogs so that they can't reproduce, which will control the numbers of the dogs. There should be a balance between people who love dogs and people who are scared of dogs.”

Talking about dogs barking late at night and how one dog leads the entire pack to do the same disturbing people's sleep, he said, “but that is true for even pet dogs. I have a pet dog and he is well trained and docile but my once my neighbor’s dog starts yapping, he joins them. Thus this is not a problem with stray dogs. On the contrary, I find stray dogs are actually helpful as when I return late at night, most of the time I find security guards sleeping but these dogs are awake and they guard the place.”

Amit Chaudhery, from People for Animals in adds to this, “There are various ways in which we can co-exist and create a favorable situation. For example, the army took a pack of stray dogs and trained them to be security guards. If you look at it then dogs can be helpful in more than one way- they kill rats, guard’s society and protect.”

Dog menace: Few solutions yet lot of loopholes

While struck with a menace of barking dogs, the following are the best options that a Gurgaon citizens have:

(a) Call up  18001801817. That is MCG’s toll free number for reporting stray animal cases. The mayor promises that they take quick action.
(b) You can also call up People for Animals (Gurgaon) at 0124 – 2276502 and seek their help
(c) Do not feed the dogs with excess food from your house
(d) Do not start running when you see a stray dog
(e) Do not look into their eyes
(f) Do not go near the puppies
Do not throw stones at them or try to hit them with sticks

Yet a few loopholes remain : Authorities, animal lovers and RWAs need to sort out together

But then the common dos and donts do not seem to work out in absence a proper regulation in our society. Cases such as suffered by Ms. Mahendru won't find a proper solution unless authorities, citizens and NGOs all sit up and take notice. Trying to list down a few immediate points to be taken up for discussion are:

(a) How many pets can you keep in your house? 
(b) What are rules for keeping adopted stray animals in your house? Can you turn your house into a zoo?
(c) Can authorities take action against adopted strays or pets if the neighbor's complain?

In absence of a clear regulation on pets and adopted strays, in absence of proper relocation areas and in absence of proper guidelines from the authorities – it is left to human sensibilities to ensure that their neighbors get a good night’s sleep. 

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