When it comes to stray animals, whether cats or dogs, people broadly fall under three camps in a housing society. The first are people who are vehemently opposed to any eviction, the second are those who see strays as a menace and want them removed, and the third category of people simply don’t care either way. 

Whichever category one falls in, it is always safer to ensure that strays have their own ‘territory’ within the complex. Places like parking areas should be kept free of strays for their own security. Allowing strays to roam free in such areas can result in an unfortunate accident where a car or a heavier vehicle may run over the animal. What are the options available in dealing with strays in the complex? Can we remove them altogether or should we look for more humane solutions? 

Can we remove the stray from the society?

Strays like dogs are territorial animals and it is illegal to remove them from their territory. It is also illegal to cause them any injury or to feed them poisonous food. Since the society premises can be seen as their territory, removing strays from the area is illegal. As per the law, it is the duty of every citizen to take care of their natural environment, which includes living creatures like strays. But where the movement of strays can cause problems, such as in parking areas, it is best to look for harmonious solutions that can meet the requirements of both the strays and the residents.  

Humane ways of restricting stray movement in parking areas

To ensure a harmonious resolution or avoidance of any human-stray conflict, residents must approach the problem of stray movement in parking areas in a systematic manner. While we should restrict their movement in such areas, it is not practical to put any kind of barrier or traps to discourage their movement. Restrictive traps can maim or injure the animal and other barriers like gates may prove ineffectual.

This issue should be resolved systematically:

Vaccinating and sterilising strays: Vaccination is important for the safety and security of both the strays and the residents. It protects the animals from any infection and stops them from being carriers of diseases. Sterilisation is necessary to ensure that the population of strays does not exceed manageable levels. Residents or assigned volunteers can carry out both exercises though a vet or through municipal authorities and NGOs in their cities. 

Designate feeding areas: One of the most effective ways of curbing movement of strays in a particular area is by creating designated feeding areas. This can be the garden or another area that is sufficiently away from the parking lot. Make sure that the strays are fed at this spot at a fixed time everyday. Over time, they will move to the new area. Feeding also helps you keep track and identify the strays on the premises.

Making the parking lot less appealing: This can be achieved by removing any food that can attract the strays. Make sure that there are no open garbage bags or bins. These must be tightly closed or tied up. 

It must be emphasised here that this exercise to remove strays from the parking areas must be handled carefully and with sensitivity. It is illegal to hurt or remove strays from their territory and hence, a suitable solution lies in gently nudging them away from parking areas by offering them a new territory.