Out of Sight, Out of Mind: New Delhi Issues Order to Hide Street Dogs Ahead of G20 Summit

“There are approximately 6.2 crore stray dogs and 91 lakh street cats in India, with 77 percent of the country’s population reporting seeing a stray dog at least once a week. The problem of stray animals in India is not only a humanitarian issue but also a public health concern.”

In case you’re wondering, a crore equals 10 million, and a lakh equals one hundred thousand. If that doesn’t blow you away, we’re not sure what will, but those statistics were reported in January of 2023 by The Times of India, which should know a thing or two about the horrendous homeless pet population the country suffers from.

stray dog
Photo: Pixabay/dimitrisvetsikas1969

So, why bring it up? Well, it turns out that leaders in the country have decided that ahead of September’s G20 Summit, which takes place in New Delhi this year (where well over 60,000 stray dogs live), homeless street dogs need to be rounded up and kept out of sight while the event is going on. That sounds like quite a feat if you could pull it off.

Per the AFB, New Delhi’s municipal government plans to use nets to trap the dogs from dozens of locations, particularly tourist hotspots like boutique hotels, the 17th-century Red Fort, and areas popular with diners. The roundup began the first week of August, and the summit takes place September 9 and 10, so they have just a hair over a month to get the job done. 

stray dogs
Photo: Pixabay/Javad_esmaeili

Where you’d stash a hoard of dogs that large is unclear, but they are planning on
transporting many of them to local animal sterilization centers “due to the G20 summit.”
“All stray dogs picked up from these locations shall be kept … for their further care and feeding ’til the program is over,” the order reportedly stated.

Home to approximately 30 million people, New Delhi has seen its beautification efforts in overdrive since the country assumed the G20 presidency in 2022. Besides dogs, the
authorities are said to have cleared illegal slums near summit venues and even overhauled major routes on the city’s gridlocked roads ahead of the event, which hosts leaders from the world’s leading economies.

stray dog
Photo: Pixabay/vkhima

While the only stats they have on street dog populations dates back to India’s Livestock Census of 2012, sterilization campaigns have allegedly been employed by local authorities “regularly” in the past without much progress. Dog packs are still said to remain in public parks and residential neighborhoods throughout the city.

“These government people take them away to do sterilization then bring them back again,” Mohmmad Irfan, a shopkeeper based near the city’s Jama Masjid mosque, told AFP. “They don’t have a permanent solution.”

While many of the strays are cared for by neighborhoods that help with food and sweaters to stay warm in winter, it’s not nearly enough to make the kind of dent that needs to be made. 

street dog
Photo: Pixabay/ivandesouza

And then there’s the problem of the animals representing a threat to humans. Local media routinely reports the mauling of young kids by aggressive dog packs across the country, with approximately 17 million dog bites reported nationally each year. In fact, the World Health Organization says that nearly 20,000 people die of rabies there yearly.

According to Meet Ashar, Delhi’s relocation plan risked agitating the dogs. A member of PETA, they explained to the AFP, “They are not used to being handled and picked up with nets and being transported. The next time they are approached by a human being, perhaps they could react in a defensive manner out of fear.”

If you or someone you know is planning a trip to India soon, you might want to give any strays a wide berth until they can shake it off.

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