Navigating the streets

Examining the legal and policy dimensions of free-ranging dog management in India




The Indian government’s approach to dog population management for the last two decades – the animal birth control (ABC) program – has yielded poor results. Aside from its implementation failures, the ABC is scientifically unsuited to the scale and severity of the harms posed by free-ranging dogs. It is based on a deficient understanding of both animal behaviour and animal welfare. The Indian Supreme Court, which is hearing multiple petitions relating to the danger to human life and safety posed by India’s burgeoning population of free-ranging dogs, has issued interim orders that restrict alternative interventions such as long-term sheltering and euthanasia. While the legal dispute has meandered through the judicial system for more than a decade, the harms caused by free-ranging dogs continue unabated. Recent legislative changes, which encourage the maintenance of dogs on streets, have pushed government policy in a seemingly regressive pathway. This paper presents a critical discussion of the legal and policy position, and suggests integrated and contextual approaches for viable dog population management. 


stray dog, animal birth control, animal cruelty, Supreme Court, Article 21


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Authors Bio

Gautam Aredath, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

Gautam Aredath is a policy analyst at the Centre for Policy Design at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.

Abi T Vanak, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment

Abi T. Vanak is the Director of the Centre for Policy Design and Senior Fellow (Professor) at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.


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