Roaming packs of feral dogs have killed six children in the last week in north India, terrifying villagers who have begun keeping their children home from school and killing any dogs they encounter. At least two dozen more children have been injured.
The killings have occurred in and around the town of town of Sitapur, said senior police officer Anand Kulkarni. Many of the attacks occurred when children were out gathering mangoes or when they left their homes to use outhouse toilets, he said. Many homes in the area lack indoor plumbing. Twelve children between the ages 5 and 12 have been killed in dog attacks in the area since November, officials say.
It was not clear how many dogs were involved in the attacks, but India has millions of strays that wander the streets in even the most exclusive neighborhoods. The feral dogs often survive on leftover food set in alleys for them, but also face relentless cruelty by people, and regularly fight other dogs over territory. While injuries from dog attacks are fairly common, a string of fatalities in one area is rare.
The recent deaths included three children killed by a pack of strays on May 1, Kulkarni said. Two more children were killed on May 4. Gita was killed on Friday.