G20 Summit: New Delhi Halts Plan to Catch and Hide Street Dogs

New Delhi has called a halt on plans to catch and hide thousands of stray dogs before world leaders arrive in the megacity for next month’s G20 summit.

New Delhi’s municipal government on Thursday had announced it would round up canines outside boutique hotels and popular tourist hotspots, and keep them at animal sterilisation centres until the summit was over.

But the policy was abruptly withdrawn over the weekend, a local official on Sunday informed without giving reasons behind the move.

Local media reported that the dog-catching scheme had aroused opposition from Delhi residents and animal rights activists.

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.

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

Many of Delhi’s strays are beloved by their adopted neighbourhoods 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.

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Almost 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.

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.