Being a stray animal means being lost or without a home, following the definition of Merriam Webster. The number of stray animals has been increasing in urban areas, pushing organizations to monitor this specific issue more closely worldwide, the World Health Organization being one of these organizations. They have stated that out of the 900 million dogs, there are about 200 million strays. Other organizations focused on the number of cats, like PetPedia, who reported that, out of the 700 million cats, 400 million are stray. This means that 22 percent of all dogs are stray, and 57 percent of all cats are stray. Most of these animals roam in urban areas. Because of the rising number of people and the modern development of cities, we can formulate a question: what is the quality of life of stray animals in urban areas? My goal in this paper is to show the three main reasons stray animals have a low quality of life in these areas, the first being the circulation of disease among animals, followed by the abuse of animals, and finally the killing of these animals.
Animals can develop many diseases, especially in urban areas where pollution is high and streets are not at all clean. According to Boston Public Health Commision, stray cats’ mouths and claws can accommodate plenty bacteria and viruses, which can turn out to be extremely harmful. For example, stray cats can carry rabies, mainly because in urban areas they can come in contact with skunks, bats, and raccoons. Moreover, in urban areas it is quite common to spot a cat with one eye, because of infections related to a cold that the cat caught.
Dogs are also victims of the diseases. According to US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health,
“The lack of official programs to control dog populations may lead to a surplus of dogs in a specific area. This problem, created by humans, very often ends in acts of cruelty towards dogs and public health problems, including attacks and infectious diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis, intestinal parasites, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis, among many others.”
As stated on the National Animal Interest Alliance website, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 55,000 people die from rabies each year, while another 15 million receive post-exposure therapy to avoid the terrible disease. 95 percent of these cases occur in Asia and Africa, and dogs are responsible for 99 percent of fatalities around the world. These numbers demonstrate how the lack of official programs to treat animals and get them to less treacherous places causes a surplus of dogs in one area that can be dangerous not only for other animals, but also humans who come in contact with these stray animals. Both cats and dogs are being exposed to diseases in these urban areas. The US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health also mentions that, because sick, elderly, irritable, or misbehaving animals are poor adoption candidates, shelters with tight "no-kill" or limited entry policies frequently deny them. This leaves these animals abandoned in the streets with their disease, or aggressive behavior, and most importantly no place to call home.
I would like to shift the focus to the abuse stray animals. There have been many stories that have gone viral throughout social media, mainly Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, on the abuse and cruelty of stray animals suffer from. One story which went extremely viral was the one of a dog named Pascal who was dumped in glue, covered with hay, and dragged in mud by children. The dog came very close to death. Pascal was just four months old when he was discovered in an industrial building by a rescue squad and taken to the He'Art of Rescue organization in Istanbul, Turkey. The dog now luckily is in perfect condition. Below in figure 1 you can see the before and after pictures of this dog.
In an article called “The Impact of Urban Development on Stray Animals” published on Kannan Animal Welfare it states that, “Being a stray in crowded cities comes with abuse and mistreatment by residents who live there. India has more than 30 million stray dogs, and out of these 30 million, at least 2 million of them are abused and ill-treated daily.” This means that out of around 7 percent of stray dogs are being abused in India. This is a large number for the country. India is the second most populated country in the world with some of the biggest cities in the world. The number of cases and the abuse against animals reported in this country confirms the correlation between Urbanization and poor quality of life for stray animals.
Lastly, we can see that the quality of life of stray animals in urban areas is very low by considering how many of them die in our cities. In the article called “The Impact of Urban Development on Stray Animals” published on Kannan Animal Welfare, it is also stated that speeding automobiles cause numerous injuries and deaths on highways and roads; an estimated 1.2 million dogs are killed annually as a result of automobile accidents in India. This shows that the killing of stray animals only in automobile accidents is around 5 percent. We can also see that there are cases in which animals are not just killed by accident. In a paper written by Fondazione Mondo Animale called “Too Many Dogs and Cats” they state that, “Up until 1997, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, 300 dogs were killed every day in a decompression chamber. This continued for many years and yet the suburbs were still full of stray dogs. In the center of Naples, Italy, up until 1991, 5,000 dogs were caught and killed every year without ever resolving the stray dog problem”. Sao Paolo and Naples are two big cities with a large dog population where the local government has resolved to killing animals instead of supporting adoption and care for these stray animals.
In conclusion, we can see that the quality of life of stray animals in urban areas is extremely low because of the amount of disease, the abuse of animals, and the killing of many of them as a solution to the increasing numbers that roam our streets. I think I have achieved my goal in this paper which was to show the three main reasons stray animals have a low quality of life in these areas.
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