Stray dogs have killed 13 children in Indian villages. No one knows why

Over the past few weeks, villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district have been living in fear, terrorised by packs of deadly dogs.

In the locality, around 92km to the north of state capital Lucknow, streets are often deserted and children are being told not to venture outside, even for school. On May 13, a 12-year-old girl was mauled to death by stray dogs, but she was only the latest victim. A series of horrifying attacks have resulted in the deaths of at least 12 other children aged between five and 12 in the same area. Another 24 have reportedly been injured. Many of the children had simply gone out to pluck mangoes or use outhouse toilets.

The first attack was reported in November last year, but they have escalated this month, with six other cases recorded since May 01. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath visited the area last week, just before the latest incident, promising to eliminate the canine menace and offering Rs2 lakh (around $3,000) in compensation to the grieving families. But villagers say the government is not doing enough: On May 13, they blocked the national highway in protest.

Stray dogs are a common sight across India, and they are for the most part harmless, inured to the crowds of people walking by every day. But feral dogs have been a problem for many years. In 2015, a report by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control showed that India accounted for over a third of global rabies deaths, largely because locals are often…

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