Addressing Street Dog Overpopulation: Embracing Animal Birth Control for a Safer Society


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Animal birth control rules

Mains level: Stray dog overpopulations and birth control programs challenges and alternatives

Animal Birth Control

Central Idea

  • Dogs have always stirred up a range of emotions in people, making it impossible to ignore their presence in our lives. However, the growing population of street dogs in recent decades has presented numerous challenges for cities and municipalities across the country. Unfortunately, some critics have dismissed animal birth control initiatives as failures, demonstrating cynicism that is both mischievous and misguided.

Stray Dog Attacks in India

  • Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population, which as per the official 2019 livestock census stood at 1.5 crore.
  • However, independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
  • The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
  • Experts agree there may be a correlation between urbanisation and solid waste production, made visible due to the mismanagement of waste disposal.
  • Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Reasons behind

  • Poor waste management: Inadequate waste disposal facilities and the mismanagement of solid waste often lead to the congregation of stray dogs around garbage dumps and landfills, where they scavenge for food.
  • Unplanned urbanization: The population boom in Indian cities has led to a sharp increase in the stray dog population. Rapid urbanization has led to the creation of slums and unmanaged solid waste, which attract dogs.
  • Lack of food and shelter: The availability of food and shelter determines the carrying capacity of a city. In the absence of these facilities, free-ranging dogs become scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
  • Territoriality: Stray dogs often become territorial and aggressive about public spaces where they are fed, leading to increased attacks on humans.
  • Improper sterilization and rescue centres: Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.

Shortcomings of animal birth control

  • Inconsistent Implementation: One of the main challenges is the inconsistent implementation of animal birth control programs across different regions. The effectiveness of these programs can vary depending on the commitment and resources allocated by local authorities.
  • Limited Coverage: Animal birth control programs may not cover all areas affected by street dog overpopulation. Some regions may have inadequate resources or insufficient awareness about the benefits of sterilization programs.
  • Funding Constraints: Insufficient funding can hinder the implementation and sustainability of animal birth control programs. Limited financial resources may result in a shortage of trained personnel, inadequate infrastructure, and reduced outreach efforts.
  • Resistance from Communities: Some communities may resist animal birth control initiatives due to misconceptions, cultural beliefs, or lack of awareness. Overcoming these barriers requires targeted community engagement, education, and dispelling myths surrounding sterilization programs.
  • Behavioral Challenges: Animal birth control programs often face challenges related to capturing street dogs, performing surgeries, and post-operative care. Behavioral issues, such as fear or aggression, can make the process more challenging.
  • Long-term Sustainability: Ensuring the long-term sustainability of animal birth control programs is crucial. These programs require continued investment, monitoring, and evaluation to maintain their effectiveness.

Facts for prelims

Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023

  • The Central Government has introduced the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023, superseding the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001.
  • These rules have been implemented to address the guidelines set by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Writ Petition No. 691 of 2009.
  • The Rules emphasize the responsibility of local bodies, such as municipalities, Municipal Corporations, and Panchayats, in conducting Animal Birth Control (ABC) programs for sterilization and immunization of stray dogs.
  • The rules aim to reduce the population of stray dogs and address animal welfare concerns.
  • The guidelines provide a framework for dealing with conflicts between humans and stray dogs without resorting to relocating the dogs from an area.
  • ABC programs must be conducted by organizations recognized by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for their expertise in ABC programs

Misconceptions surrounding Animal Birth Control (ABC) programs

  • Ineffectiveness of Sterilization: Some people believe that sterilization does not effectively control street dog populations. They may argue that sterilized dogs can still reproduce or that the impact of sterilization is minimal. However, numerous studies and successful implementation of ABC programs worldwide have shown that sterilization is a proven method.
  • Cruelty or Harm to Animals: There is a misconception that sterilization surgeries are cruel and cause unnecessary harm to animals. However, ABC programs prioritize the health and welfare of animals, and sterilization is a safe and humane procedure performed under anesthesia by trained veterinarians.
  • Abandonment of Dogs: Some people believe that sterilized dogs are more likely to be abandoned by their owners or that sterilization leads to behavioral changes that make dogs less desirable as pets. However, sterilization has no negative impact on a dog’s behavior or loyalty.
  • Cost Inefficiency: It is sometimes claimed that sterilization programs are expensive and not cost-effective. However, the long-term benefits of ABC programs, such as reduced costs associated with managing stray dogs, decreased risks of dog bites, and improved public health, outweigh the initial investment.
  • Neglect of Other Issues: Some individuals argue that focusing on animal birth control diverts attention and resources from other pressing issues, such as poverty or healthcare. However, addressing street dog overpopulation through ABC programs is not mutually exclusive with addressing societal challenges.

Animal Birth Control

Way ahead: A call for change

  • Strengthen Implementation: Efforts should be made to strengthen the implementation of Animal Birth Control (ABC) programs across all regions. This includes standardizing processes, improving infrastructure, and ensuring uniformity in the application of ABC rules and guidelines.
  • Increase Awareness and Education: Public awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate communities about responsible pet ownership, the benefits of sterilization, and how to coexist peacefully with street dogs.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging with local communities is vital to garner support and address concerns surrounding street dogs. Building trust, involving community leaders, and working collaboratively to develop solutions can help foster positive relationships and encourage responsible pet ownership practices.
  • Research and Data Collection: Continued research and data collection are essential to evaluate the impact of ABC programs, track population trends, and understand the dynamics of street dog issues. This data can inform evidence-based decision-making, facilitate targeted interventions, and support the refinement of strategies.
  • Strengthen Legislation and Policies: Reviewing and updating existing legislation related to animal welfare and responsible pet ownership can help create a more conducive environment for effective street dog management.
  • Strengthen Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaboration among government bodies, animal welfare organizations, veterinary professionals, and community stakeholders is crucial. Partnerships can help pool resources, expertise, and funding, leading to more impactful interventions and sustainable outcomes.
  • Long-Term Sustainability: Ensuring the long-term sustainability of street dog management programs requires continued funding, monitoring, and evaluation. Governments, philanthropic organizations, and individuals should allocate resources and support initiatives that prioritize the welfare of both humans and animals.
  • International Best Practices: Learning from successful street dog management programs implemented in other countries can provide valuable insights and guidance. Adopting international best practices, adapting them to local contexts, and sharing knowledge and experiences can contribute to more effective strategies.


  • Addressing street dog overpopulation requires a comprehensive approach that includes animal birth control as a key component. Instead of dismissing it as ineffective, we should embrace continuous policy reforms and resource investments. Let us work together to eliminate the suffering and public health risks associated with outdated methods, and strive to achieve our noble goal through the implementation of the new rules.

Also Read:

Link between poor Solid Waste Management and Stray Dog Attacks

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