Stray Dogs In India—Evolution in Inaction
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From Gardiner Harris in the NYT:
Where Streets Are Thronged With Strays Baring Fangs 

No country has as many stray dogs as India, and no country suffers as much from them. Free-roaming dogs number in the tens of millions and bite millions of people annually, including vast numbers of children. An estimated 20,000 people die every year from rabies infections — more than a third of the global rabies toll. 

Packs of strays lurk in public parks, guard alleyways and street corners and howl nightly in neighborhoods and villages. Joggers carry bamboo rods to beat them away, and bicyclists fill their pockets with stones to throw at chasers. Walking a pet dog here can be akin to swimming with sharks. 

A 2001 law forbade the killing of dogs, and the stray population has increased so much that officials across the country have expressed alarm. … 

Is this a Hindu v. Muslim thing? The Muslims are anti-dog, so the Hindus are pro-dog? Or vice-versa?

With pointed ears, a wedge-shaped head and a tail that curls over its back, the pariah is similar in appearance to other prehistoric dogs like the Australian dingo. ... 

Short yellowish fur and medium size seems to be sort of the Platonic Essence of dogdom, what dogs evolve back to when you stop bothering to breed them. 

“Dogs essentially started out as scavengers,” Dr. Bradshaw said. “They evolved to hang around people rather than to be useful to them.” 

While that relationship has largely disappeared in the developed world, it remains the dominant one in India, where strays survive on the ubiquitous mounds of garbage. Some are fed and collared by residents who value them as guards and as companions, albeit distant ones. Hindus oppose the killing of many kinds of animals.

When I was in Turkey, there were a fair number of dogs lolling about, sleeping on the sidewalks and streets, but they seemed peaceful and undangerous. I would imagine that troublemaking dogs get removed from the gene pool pretty quickly in Turkey, but what do I know?


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