Stray dogs are homeless canines. They are often unconfined, and mostly, they are found in the cities. They get birthed, live, and die on the streets. They spend most of their days wandering through the streets and looking for food. Scientifically, they are known as free-ranging animals. Because of the hustle and bustle of cities, stray dogs need intelligence and adaptability to survive. The street is an upgrade of the wilderness for the dogs where they face extreme weather conditions, lack of food, and zero veterinarian care.
In some countries, stray dogs have been seen using bus services and the subway. Also, they have mastered the art of crossing roads by observing how humans do it. Because of a lack of attention to the strays, their number has grown immensely. At the time of this writing, the number of stray dogs worldwide was almost 480,000,000, close to half a billion.
Reasons Why Stray Dogs Are In Big Populations
1. They Can Scavenge – look at how most cities in the world look. Garbage gets exposed everywhere, giving stray dogs a chance to get food in abundance. If the trash were not there, it would be harder for the stray dogs to sustain themselves.
2. Rapid Reproduction – no one controls most stray dogs’ mating behavior, so they reproduce in significant numbers. Per year, a stray female can birth to around fourteen puppies, 7 in each litter. A small number of strays can multiply into a population more than that of humans in a lifetime.
3. Relationship With Homeless People – homeless people and those who dwell in slums treat stray dogs as their own. They care and feed them, thus sustaining their livelihoods.
Data On Stray Dogs
|AGE (% of all STRAY DOGS)
|SEX (% of all STRAY DOGS)
|SKIN PROBLEMS (% of all STRAY DOGS)
|No skin problems
|Skin problems on up to 25% of the body
|Skin problems on more than 25% of the body
|NUTRITIONAL STATUS (% of all STRAY DOGS)
Are Stray Dogs Dangerous?
Although arguable, stray dogs are more wild than domestic, and that should answer the question. When they roam through the streets and enter human neighborhoods, it becomes dangerous for the human population and the pets who live there.
Because of their mild wildness, they will often bite and attack pets and other humans. The likelihood of getting bitten by a stray dog is higher than that of a pet dog. In India alone, almost 2 million dog bite cases are reported every year, and most of them are by stray dogs. The most significant risk of dog bites is contracting rabies – a highly infectious and fatal disease.
If left untreated, rabies can cause death. Asia suffers the most number of rabies-rated deaths: in every 55,000 people who died of rabies, 49,500 are from Asia.
Apart from rabies, stray dogs can invite an infection known as toxocariasis. This infection comes about when feces of dogs are left uncleaned. The disease can invite the following troubles to humans: nausea, dizziness, blindness, asthma, and seizures. Who goes cleaning after stray dogs? No one does.
Are Stray Dogs Friendly?
Well, stray are selectively friendly. The dogs’ instincts, which are formed from survival attitudes, tend to pull them away from being friendly pooches. The average man has an antagonistic relationship with a stray dog. Stray dogs often get confused and anxious, which triggers their aggression.
However, things change when stray dogs cross paths with caring humans. When you start feeding stray dogs, they become less aggressive. They take food generosity to their hearts and may keep coming back to the place where you provided them. However, take care not to make it a culture of feeding strays. You may wake up one morning to so many dogs scratching against your door.
When you see one, know that there are more stray dogs from where that one came.
How Can You Tell A Stray Dog?
1. Look at the dog’s coat. What is its condition? Does the skin look like someone brushed it recently? Try and smell it. Is it smelly or fresh? A smelly coat means that the dog has not received a good coat wash in a long time, and only a stray dog would be stinky. Or dogs whose owners have no sense of care. Check for tangles and mats. If those exist, for the most part, the dog is a stray. Or maybe he has been lost from his owner for the longest time.
2. Look at the dog’s weight. Does it look malnourished? Is it severely underweight? Are its ribs showing? If that is the case, you are probably dealing with a stray dog. If it seems weak and skinny, it is because it has not received proper feeding. Try to throw some food to its direction and see how it will react. Will it gobble the food down hungrily? If yes, the dog is homeless or hungry.
If you decide to feed the dog, be careful not to give it so much food right away. Its digestive system might get overwhelmed, and the dog may become very ill, or vomit all the food. Feed the stray dog with small portions before it handles heavy meals.
3. Study the dog’s temperament. Is the dog shy or standoffish? Does it refuse to get near you? If so, the dog is a stray. How do most people act around stray dogs? They hurl abuse, like, ‘You dog!’ and throw stones to the stray’s direction. With this abuse and mistreatment, the dog develops a particular wariness. Take time before you approach a stray dog. It would be best if you invited them with a treat. Do not get close yet –watch them eat. At a reasonable time, make your approach and pet them.
What To Do When You Find A Free-Ranging Dog?
If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you cross paths with stray dogs many times. The way you react around a stray dog goes a long way in humanity and even for the dogs themselves. You may have seen a dog that looked lost or stranded, and suddenly, an ounce of pity grew in your heart. Here, I will open you up on some tips for working your way around that kind of situation.
1. Make a complete assessment of the situation. When you first see a dog wandering around, look around to see whether a human companion is with it. If you jump right into it and reach out for the dog without assessing, its owner may jump right at you and accuse you of stealing their pet. Don’t let yourself get embarrassed like that.
Look at the dog’s demeanor. Does it look distressed or injured? If yes, proceed carefully because a dog in that state may bite you. If you make your approach without considering this, the dog may get scared, try to run away, and injure themselves more.
Also, study the dog’s temperament. Look at for signs of aggressions such as slow grunts and sharp barks. Be advised not to approach a grunting stray dog.
2. Close in on the dog with foody love. If the stray dog is warm and appears to lack any injuries, what you need to do is move in and catch it. And no – I am not talking about pouncing on the dog like you are a predator. You need to do the catching with the foody kind of love. Have with you some dog treats that have meat in them. Now, bend or crouch towards the direction of the dog. Snap at it or make a pleasant sound. When the stray dog gets your attention, throw the treat down but not very far from where you are. That day, make sure you are wearing a smile – it is all part of the plan. When the dog eats up, move near and try to rub its coat. Hoping that it has fallen for the trick, put a leash on it. A bolder move would be to cage the dog, but I wouldn’t advise you to go that way.
Rule: You should assume that the dog is not a stray – that it is lost.
3. Inspect the dog to know it. Some of the things you can use to check for the dog’s identity are an ID tag or a collar. Also, take the dog to the nearest animal shelter or veterinarian. There, let the dog experts scan the stray to see whether it has a microchip. If the dog doesn’t have one, it is 65% stray. Dependent on your results, your options will be:
a) Animal Control – as the law provides in most countries, you need to make contact with the authorities and notify them that you have a stray dog. Under animal control officers, the dog will be held for a period. During that time, they can either choose neuter/spay it or rehome it.
b) The Owner – if the dog has a microchip, find out where the chip got bought. Then, you can assume that whoever purchased the chip is the owner. With the contact details, reach out to the owner and arrange for how it will get picked up.
If yours is not the microchip way, you can look up websites where lost dogs get advertised. Online classifieds and Facebook pages can also help in the search for the owner. Go ahead and post the missing dog online so that you reach out to as many people.
4. Take care of the dog. This move is a tough one, but it will be easy if you love the dog already. If you make it, your first stop should be at the vet’s office. The stray dog will need a full health exam. The exam will tell you whether you need to pay for vaccination and treatment, which you should. As soon as you choose to foster the stray, all financial responsibilities are on you.
The Bad That Happens To Stray Dogs
In different parts of the world, stray dogs get treated differently depending on the surrounding human population. But there is one thing that brings the world together – treating stray dogs unfairly and painfully! The two wrong ways in which stray dogs get treated without love and care are:
2. Dog-meat trade
Let’s look at each in detail:
The first act of animal cruelty is the deliberate killing of stray dogs. When animal shelters get overcrowded and stay long without being taken up for adoption, they get euthanized. In the US, Ireland, and Asia, this culture is extensively practiced.
The numbers will blow your mind – at least one million shelter animals get euthanized every year. Of that number, at least 670,000 is of dogs. Looking at the data closely, it means that at least 186 dogs get culled per day, and per hour, a total of 7 dogs. That is so much pain in such a short time.
The methods used sadden the story even more – kill traps, poisoning, hacking-to-death, electrocution, and gun shooting. All these cruel ways are taken up to make sure that the stray dog population is under control. Throughout 2014 only, 117,315 Balinese dogs got eliminated. That is at least 13 dog deaths a day.
The argument behind this cruelty is that stray dogs need to be put under control. Their overpopulation increases the chances of humans getting bitten and contracting rabies.
The downside for this practice is that it burdens taxpayers. Euthanizing one dog means that a couple of dollars will get spent. In Lee County in Florida, the 25,000 animals that have been euthanized cost the Department of Animal Services $20 million – all that being taxpayers’ money.
2. Dog-Meat Trade
Another issue in stray dog cruelty is dog-meat trade. For example, in South Korea, a dog will get electrocuted, hanged, bludgeoned, and boiled alive. This reason is a selfish one, considering that it is meant to benefit businesses, and not for stray dog population control.
In Bali, Indonesia, humans consume dog meat out of pleasure. That has led to the butchering of over 100,000 dogs, eaten by at least 730,000 humans. Here are some of the reasons why dog-meat consumption is high in Asian countries:
1. The dog meat’s high calories warm up human bodies.
2. The meat strengthens people’s immune systems.
3. The meat cures several illnesses.
In China, over 100 million dogs sustain dog-meat trade. Other countries with high numbers of animal mistreatment are:
2. Sri Lanka
How To Deal With The Stray Dog Population
1. Mass Sterilization
Animal control centers should establish proper plans to neuter dogs. It may come at a cost, but it will prevent the number of stray litters from getting born. How so? The castrating or spaying involves removing the dogs’ reproductive system. In turn, the production of reproductive hormones gets curbed.
Apart from population control, this move is beneficial because it reduces the stray dogs’ aggression levels
Vaccination should help to deal with common diseases, especially the ones that can affect humans. Communities should join hands with local governments to make sure that immunization projects get funding. This joint-approach helps all parties to avoid laying a heavy burden on the money belonging to taxpayers.
I’m Christopher Benjamin, a dedicated Animal Nutritionist at Ethos Veterinary Health with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Michigan State University. My lifelong passion for animals led me to establish AnimalsData.Com. Here, I share expert advice, educational resources, and inspiring stories to empower fellow pet lovers worldwide. Join our community as we celebrate the beauty and diversity of our beloved animal companions!