Stray canines roaming the Indian capital may soon find themselves attending police training school with civic authorities planning to turn the animals into security dogs, reports said yesterday.
New Delhi residents have long informally adopted some strays as watchdogs for their homes and shops and fed them, but this marks the first formal plan to turn them into municipal security dogs.
City authorities said they would enlist police animal trainers to work with the strays and press the canines into service as guard dogs alongside a newly formed "May I Help You?" city security force which aims to assist the public and bolster safety.
"If these dogs are going to roam the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corp) area, they might as well work," the civic body's chairman Jalaj Shrivastava told The Hindu newspaper.
"Our plan is to adopt these strays and train them as guard dogs" to work with the public security force -- 40 officers have already been deployed with the city planning to engage as many as 700, he said.
While some stray dogs are friendly and docile, others are more menacing, barking ferociously at strangers who wander down New Delhi streets, and there is a high incidence of dog bites.
Night watchmen doing their rounds often take a bamboo stick to scare dogs away.
"This initiative is meant to address two issues: take the strays off the streets, thereby tackling the dog menace, and make the city safer for residents," added Shrivastava.
There are no recent figures on the number of dogs in Delhi but a 2009 city survey put them at more than 260,000.
The reports did not say how many dogs would be used in the security scheme or when their training would start. Dogs will be fed and vaccinated under the plan, welcomed by animal rights activists.
A 2001 law forbids killing roaming dogs and the stray population has since soared, feeding off India's infamous mountains of street garbage as well as on kitchen scraps given to them by residents.