Stray, wild and feral dogs

I am reading all sorts of reports from around the world about problems with wild dogs attacking people and livestock. Farmers in Australia have long been concerned about dogs attacking their stock, but attacks on people by feral dogs in urban areas seems to be a new phenomenon in developed countries. What is going on?

In Detroit, it has been estimated that there are 50,000 stray dogs. Detroit used to be the centre of the US automobile industry, which has since collapsed. Detroit has become a wasteland full of empty and abandoned factories and warehouses. And of course, with the loss of industry, many people have gone as well. Apparently they left their dogs behind.

This article is about stray dogs in Detroit.

Now there is an attempt to  find out more accurately how many dogs are roaming around Detroit.

The New York Times recently tweeted that Detroit had spent a fortune making irregular pension payments.

DealBook: Undisclosed Payments Cost Detroit Pension Plan Billions

25 Sep
Detroit Spent Billions Extra on PensionsDetroit’s municipal pension fund made undisclosed payments for decades to retirees, active workers and others above and beyond normal benefits, costing the struggling city billions of dollars…

Bad governance hits a struggling city and has the greatest impact on those less well off – ultimately the abandoned dogs, and the people left behind who are now being threatened by them.

There is a problem closer to home, but it is not nearly as severe.

DOGS’ Homes of Tasmania shelters around the state are struggling to cope with an influx of stray and abandoned dogs.

President John Gray said shelters in Hobart, Burnie and Devonport were all very close to capacity.

An article about the influx of dogs in Tasmania said that people abandon dogs in winter, but also more and more people were finding that they couldn’t afford to keep a dog.

Developing countries have a much greater problem.  Feral dogs in India are a huge problem, especially  since they can carry rabies. More of this in this article.

How to deal with problem is controversial, as an article about control measures in Gorawada shows.


There is also a problem in Moscow, the capital of Russia, where many people and animals have suffered as a result of harsh economic realities following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Stray Dogs Master Complex Moscow Subway System

30,000 to 35,000 Stray Dogs Live in Russia’s Capital City

Courtesy Maxim Marmur

3/19/10, 10:21 AM EDT

Every so often, if you ride Moscow’s crowded subways, you notice that the commuters around you include a dog – a stray dog, on its own, just using the handy underground Metro to beat the traffic and get from A to B.

Yes, some of Moscow’s stray dogs have figured out how to use the city’s immense and complex subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops. The human commuters around them are so accustomed to it that they rarely seem to notice.

“In Moscow there are all sorts of stray dogs, but… there are no stupid dogs,” Dr. Andrey Poyarkov, a biologist who has studied Moscow’s strays for 30 years, told ABC News.

As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia’s capital city. They can be found everywhere, from markets to construction sites to underground passageways, scrounging for food and trying to survive. Taking the subway is just one of many tactics the strays have come up with for surviving in the manmade wilderness around them.

“The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest,” says Poyarkov. “These clever dogs know people much better than people know them.”

Poyarkov says that only a small fraction of strays have figured out how to navigate the maze that is Moscow’s subway system.

What’s most impressive about the subway dogs, says Poyarkov’s graduate student, Alexei Vereshchagin, is their ability to deal with the Metro’s loud noises and packed crowds, distractions that domesticated dogs often cannot handle.

“It’s stressful even for people standing in a crowd,” he said.


About transformational1

I have many interests and I have had a varied career. I am a semi-retired professional dog trainer, specialising in the use of positive reinforcement. I do some consultations, I run instructor workshops and I am setting up a Dogs and Psychotherapy Research Project. I have a law degree from Melbourne University (but have never practiced) and I am passionate about Human Rights. My first degree was in Sociology. I worked as a social researcher on issues such as low income housing, women's refuges and women in the workforce. I live in an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and I have a German Shepherd called Chance.
This entry was posted in Aggression, Behaviour problems, Dangerous Dogs, Dog training, Dogs, domestication of dogs, Human-animal bond, predatory aggression, Social and legal issues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stray, wild and feral dogs

  1. How very sad that people care so little for animals but I guess when feeding themselves is a priority and not enough legit shelters, what can you do? I belong to an organization that traps, spays and releases feral cats. Another infamous group(won’t tell you which one but I bet you could guess) is up in arms about it saying this is creating problems with wildlife. The cats are then killing birds etc. Really? So it is better to have 1000 cats that have how many litters per year keep multiplying? No their answer is simple no doubt, kill them! This is much more humane. Sigh.


    • It is sad, but people feed themselves and their kids first. We are a lucky minority of human beings who can afford to keep pets. Generally people have looked after animals out of self-interest – because they want to eat them, or because animals help us do our work. To me it was a shock to hear about one more indicator of how bad things have become in the US for some people. It’s not a good place to poor in, and there’s no safety net.


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