New Delhi to hide street dogs ahead of G20 summit

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India’s capital will catch, sterilize and hide thousands of stray dogs roaming its streets as part of a campaign to clean up the megacity before it hosts next month’s G20 summit.

New Delhi’s municipal government plans to use nets to trap the canines from dozens of locations including around boutique hotels and some of the city’s most impressive monuments and tourist hotspots, such as the 17th century Red Fort.

On Thursday authorities directed city employees to begin rounding up dogs for transport 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 till the program is over,” the order said.

The Delhi metropolitan area, home to around 30 million people, has been on an intense beautification drive since India assumed the G20 presidency last year.

Authorities have cleared illegal slums near summit venues and revamped major arterial routes on the city’s gridlocked roads ahead of September’s summit, which will host leaders of the world’s top economies.

More than 60,000 stray dogs live on Delhi’s streets according to India’s Livestock Census of 2012, the most recent available government figures.

Sterilization campaigns have been regularly employed by local authorities to keep the canine population in check, though dog packs remain present in parks and residential neighborhoods around 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.”

  • Beloved strays –

Many of Delhi’s strays are beloved by their adopted neighborhoods despite lacking formal owners, with some dogs clothed in special canine jackets to keep warm during the city’s harsh winters.

But they are also a hazard to humans, with local media regularly reporting on the mauling of young children by aggressive dog packs across the country.

In 2018, angry villagers killed 13 stray dogs in Uttar Pradesh state after three children under the age of 12 were mauled to death on the same day.

Roughly 17 million dog bites are reported across India each year and the World Health Organization says that nearly 20,000 people nationwide die of rabies annually.

Delhi’s relocation plan risked dangerously agitating the dogs, Meet Ashar of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told AFP.

“They are not used to being handled and picked up with nets and being transported,” he said.

“The next time they are approached by a human being, perhaps they could react in a defensive manner out of fear.”

©️ Agence France-Presse

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