Baghdad officials have killed over 58,000 stray dogs
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July 11 2010: Article relates that in the past three months, officials in Baghdad have killed over 58,000 stray dogs. It is estimated there are 1.25 million feral dogs in and around the city, and packs of the wild canines have begun attacking civilians in the area. The dog-killing duties are split between about 20 teams, who often use poisoned meat to lure the dogs out, and in some cases shoot the dogs. The teams coordinate their activities with occupation military and security forces, so that the teams aren't mistaken for insurgents and draw fire.

This is probably just as well, since it seems that some of Iraq's feral dogs may have acquired a taste for human flesh judging by accounts from the front line[2]


2. House to House Bellavia, David, ISBN-13: 978-1416574712 : Includes accounts of feral dogs following the author's unit to eat the dead insurgents that they left behind. Admittedly that was Fallujah rather than Baghdad…

Game and Story Use

  • Strange bit of set-dressing for campaigns set in or passing through a war zone. Wars and disasters upset the natural order and create strange ecological niches that dogs or other feral animals might exploit.
    • See our Post Apocalyptic Decay page for more ideas on how fast the dogs will start taking over as society erodes and/or people flee the war zone.
    • Packs of wild dogs could show up in Twilight 2000 / Twilight 2013, Savage Worlds Tour of Darkness or Weird War 2, or in any sort of war / historical / After The End campaign. If there's a collapse of civilization of any sort of scale, roving packs of feral dogs become a possible complication.
    • In a Fantasy Genre campaign, such as Dungeons & Dragons things could get far weirder. Blink dogs. Werewolves (or wererats). Rust Monsters. Dire horses. Magical familiars. All kinds of bizarre critters could show up and prosper that would make mundane dogs pale in comparison. What species of monster fills up the ruins or preys on the survivors depends on the nature of the civilization that collapsed or the type of war that happened. (And in D&D at least, it'll also depend on the character level of the PCs.)
    • The War Between The States saw a similar problem with herds of feral pigs which roamed the battlefields gorging on corpses. What happened if/when they encountered starving late war Confederate forces is not accessibly recorded…
  • The PCs might be one of those 20 teams in Baghdad. It's not particularly exciting at face value, and most of us aren't going to get terribly excited about playing the dogcatcher or euthanasiast, even set in a war zone, but there's plenty of ways to spice it up. They could stumble across a fortune ala the movie Three Kings. Or, it might turn out the dogs aren't really dogs, but are werewolves, zombie dogs, alien-dog hybrids, or some other sinister force that the PCs have to investigate or defeat. Some war criminal on one side or another of the conflict, may have unleashed the dogs on purpose.
    • Think real good and hard about this one, and know your players before you propose it. Even if someone's normally a munchkin who kills orcs and enemy spies with glee, they might not sit too well with a campaign that spends a lot of time shooting at Man's Best Friend.
  • In an anime-themed setting, a war might leave packs of feral Pokemon in it's wake. Pika! Pika! Grrrr! :)
  • Not just the locals that have been doing this - Allied troops also got assigned to dog shooting duty in the early days. A good assignment for military PCs who annoy their CO … on a par with latrine duty and the gash patrol.
  • As per SSgt Bellavia's account, the dogs might not be the only thing getting a taste for dead human - it might get into the rats and what have you (in a mundane campaign) or, in a fantasy/horror one, ghouls and similar horrors might trail a successful party, hoping to feast on their kills.
  • Noted that the arab world is not traditionally a dog-friendly place for various reasons - tying into the Bellavia account, older stories from British forces on colonial duty in the Middle East note that the dogs quickly learnt to distinguish between the British, who were generally kind and friendly and would often feed them, and the locals who were hostile at best. This meant that the British units acquired a bonus security force of feral dogs who would bark and growl furiously at any locals - not much use when patrolling in town, but very useful for detecting ambushes in rural areas or attackers sneaking up on the camp at night.
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