Stray dogs

At the rate Kerala is culling its canines, God will soon disown God's Own Country.

It seems the mongrels in the land of backwaters and tourism are subjected to a bizarre government-supported social experiment of Frankenstein proportion — one that will make even those with a hide-thick stomach lining retch like a pregnant woman with hyperemesis gravidarum.

The 100 percent literate land has suddenly sprouted a colony of Dumb and Dumber baying for the blood of street dogs. James Pambaykkal is an emergent.

Before the intractable war cry downs the acumen of the sane, here's my open letter to the gentleman who has announced gold as a reward (but of course, this is Kerala) for those who kill the maximum number of street dogs in the state.

Dear Mr James Pambaykkal,

You were in news yesterday, for all the wrong reasons I would think. But we think differently. You, as the general secretary of the Old Students Welfare Association of Pala-based St.Thomas College, had announced gold coins to civic authorities, who would kill the maximum number of stray dogs by December 10 in Kerala. Is December 10 Dumbos Day? Just asking.

Since I don't know you or where you live (and have no inclination to befriend you even if you were the last person on this earth) I decided to write you an open letter. Have someone read it for you, please.

Dogs become aggressive when they fear harm (other than when they have health issues). Aggression is a corollary of fear. And they fear humans much since we are the only species that is capable of perniciousness without provocation. So when dogs fear they become aggressive and bite, naturally. Fear/aggression is their primary defence and that keeps them alive on the streets.

Aggression is, in fact, street credo. Ask any street kid, and he/she will tell you that the only way they can survive on the mean streets is when they learn to hit first and fast. Fear teaches them that.

Survival of the fittest. It's the same with street dogs too. But when you alleviate their fear, you remove aggression from the equation. More so with dogs than humans who seem to be innately cruel. Example, you.

Stray dog menace is not exclusive to Kerala. But the kind of aggression that one sees among dogs on the streets of Kerala is exclusive. Your dogs fear you. They know you guys are out to kill them. And the only way they can survive is by turning aggressive: bite first and fast. Their reaction is tenable. But yours is not.

Though we attribute greater intelligence to canines than other animals, they are still not humans; they are incapable of cognitive intelligence like humans (though I am seriously beginning to doubt that human capability considering the rise in doltish bipeds in God's Own Country).

Thus the question arises, why are you, a homo sapiens, behaving like an animal? I won't claim to understand your aggression towards a theoretically lesser intelligent being than man.

Instead of gifting gold coins to those who cull the maximum number of dogs, why not reward those who come up with a viable, refined, non-barbaric solution to the street dog "menace"? How about using your gold coins to spay the streeties, so that they do not breed like rabbits? Or build a shelter for the strays so they don't trouble you humans or empower those who can shelter these dogs? Why not use the coins to create awareness about dealing with strays or educating people on how to recalibrate street dogs into community guard dogs?

This has been a successful experiment in many parts in Bengaluru, and I am sure good folks here will gladly share their knowledge with you. Why not spend your energies in coaxing all your wealthy industrialists and film stars to spare some change to help in this venture?

Use your coins to reach out to experts, people who have found humane solutions to the street dog predicament. Why not spend the gold on finding the cause of the problem and mitigating it instead of opting for quick-chop-solution?

Think long term, Mr Pambaykkal. Something that will not haunt you gravely on your deathbed when the time comes. As I said earlier, this problem is not unique to your land, but the solution that you propagate is anomalous. The pea-brained gold-coin idea seems to be excess.

I would like to ask those fine men and women of St.Thomas College who were responsible for grooming and shaping the members of the old students' association: What did you teach these people?

If not compassion at least the concept that there is more than one way to solve a problem? You have failed miserably in inculcating the spirit of humanity and the ability to think clearly and concisely in your old students. Tch tch.

Mr Pambaykkal, wasn't there even one person, in the 1,200-strong Old Students Welfare Association of St.Thomas College, who opposed the idea? Somebody with not a noodle for a spine to tell you: "James, let's find a less boorish and a more civilised solution to this problem."?

Not even one?

If that's the case then Kerala is not suffering a stray dog crisis but a human crisis; lack of imagination, creativity, and empathy.

No one is asking you to let the dogs kill your people. Just find a solution without killing them. Think and act your age, Mr Pambaykkal, not your shoe size.

Yours sincerely,

Sudha Pillai

The writer is a photographer, artist and founder of media company A Sunny Square. Her views are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Business Times.