Stray Dogs Issue to be heard on February 28: Supreme court.

The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear a case concerning the growing stray dog population in Kerala, which has become a major public safety concern. The Kerala government has requested permission to cull or euthanize stray dogs, while animal rights groups have opposed this measure.


Following the Kerala government’s 2015 decision to eliminate stray dogs in response to a surge in dog attacks, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India. The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) subsequently filed an application to intervene in the proceedings, highlighting the numerous complaints it had received regarding the nuisance caused by stray dogs and the tragic instances of children being fatally bitten. The Commission further informed the Court of its suo moto cognizance of several such incidents.

The KSCPCR, in its application, drew the Court’s attention to the alarming number of dog bite incidents reported across the state, particularly those affecting children.

The Kannur district panchayat has also filed an application, stating that there are 28,000 stray dogs in the district and 30 dog bites reported daily. The panchayat is seeking permission to euthanize rabid or dangerous dogs. The commission mentioned that 5794 stray dog attacks were reported in 2019, 3951 cases in 2020, 7927 cases in 2021, 11776 cases were reported in 2022 and 6276 cases were reported up to June 19, 2023, in Kannur District.

The tragic death of a child named Nihal further underscored the escalating problem of stray dog attacks in Kerala. In its application, the Commission argued that unlike the docile nature of domesticated companions, stray dogs, when congregated, exhibit a propensity for aggression, rendering them a potential public safety hazard.

The Kannur district panchayat highlighted the particularly harrowing incident of Nihal, an autistic child who was fatally mauled by a pack of stray dogs on June 11. The subsequent inquest and autopsy revealed the horrific extent of the attack, with bite marks and scratches covering his body, including severe injuries near his neck and ear. Notably, this tragedy was not an isolated event, as a similar incident in Kottayam District tragically claimed the life of a 12-year-old in the previous year.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in February 2024. The two-judge bench i.e., a divisional bench comprising of Justices J K Maheshwari and Sudhanshu Dhulia will be sitting for the final hearing. The SC will hear all the petitions related to curbing stray dog attacks in different states of the country including Kerela, Bombay, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh. 


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India accounts for 36% of the world’s rabies deaths, “causing around 18,000-20,000 deaths every year”. WHO also goes on to note that dog bites contribute “up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans”. 

Data cited in the Indian Parliament reports that there have been nearly “16 million cases of stray dog bites between 2019 and 2022, an average of over 10,000 cases daily”. 

On the other hand, Animal rights activists warn against “mass hysteria” surrounding dog bites, citing both fake news (e.g., student murder misattributed to dog attack) and animal cruelty (e.g., beatings) as consequences. How can we protect both people and stray dogs? The growing problem of stray dogs highlights the need for better government policies and animal rights actions.


Strays are currently governed under the Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules 2023, which require them to be caught, neutered, vaccinated [for rabies], and released (CNVR) back into the community. These rules were first introduced in 2001 and amended in 2010, and once again in 2023. Except for a couple of amendments, the underlying principle of CNVR hasn’t changed to control the dog population. 

Recent Cases-

  1. Patna High Court demands answers from City Chief after a petition exposes cruel NGO awarded dog sterilization contract.
  2. Deeming sterilization tenders insufficient, the Punjab & Haryana High Court commanded the Deputy Commissioner of Ambala to relocate stray dogs from the vicinity of the Judicial Complex, where judicial officers were exposed to “grave peril” and prevented from enjoying basic activities such as morning walks.
  3. Citing increase in stray dog attacks in Kerala, especially against children, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to curb the menace.
  4. Orissa High Court Orders ₹10 Lakh Compensation For Father Of Minor Mauled To Death By Stray Dogs In 2016
  5. The Karnataka High court on Wednesday directed the State government to give wide publicity to the guidelines regarding feeding of street animals and conflict resolution which suggest participation of residents.


The Supreme Court of India has scheduled a final hearing for February 28, 2024, to address the pressing issue of stray dog attacks and management in the country. This hearing culminates months of discussions and petitions concerning concerns from both residents facing threats from dog bites and animal welfare advocates highlighting the plight of stray dogs.

The court will aim to find a balanced solution that protects both public safety and animal welfare. The hearing is expected to draw significant attention and debate, as the issue poses complex challenges with strong emotions on both sides.

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Written by- Bhawana Bahety


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