Photo by Enrico Fabian for The New York Times
When we saw this article in The New York Times a few days ago, we were shocked. We thought that only a handful of rabies cases occurred these days, and didn't realize that in some parts of the world, including India, one of the most populated and sophisticated countries, still suffers not only from a horrendous stray dog population, but a rabid one: "more than a third of the global rabies toll" occurs in India. According to this piece, "Free-roaming dogs number in the tens of millions and bite millions of people annually, including vast numbers of children. [And] an estimated 20,000 people die every year from rabies infections..."
But here's the tragic paradox: A 2001 law forbade the killing of dogs, presumably by euthanasia (it's not clear whether this law applied throughout India or just in New Delhi), which helped the stray dog population soar, but in order to protect themselves from dog attacks, people are doing the killing themselves-and in ways that are less than humane. After a six year old child was slashed by a dog that charged through his family's shack, for example, they beat the dog to death.
Another fascinating bit of history is India's place "as the global center for rabid dogs...the first dog ever infected with rabies most likely was Indian," according to a rabies expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And so this frightening saga continues.
How does an entire country overrun by stray dogs and bitten, frightened people solve this epidemic humanely? We'd love to hear your thoughts.