Fed up with growing stray menace in the state, an organization in south-central Kottayam district has volunteered subsidy for those buying air guns to shoo away violent dogs.
The alumni association of a famed college in Pala has offered 10% subsidy to those who buy air guns for first time and another 25% subsidy for those who face police cases for culling stray dogs. An air gun typically costs around Rs 4000, and does not need a licence to procure.
Office-bearers of the ex-students’ association of St Thomas College point out that air guns won’t be fatal, but are strong enough to scare away canines. Its use can thus curb mindless killings of strays, they add.
Animal-lovers, however, cry foul. Air guns can cause serious injuries, they point out. Veterinary doctors also back them, saying air guns can be fatal if fired from close range.
The subsidy offer was launched in Kochi on Wednesday by giving a free air gun to activist Jose Maveli, who is facing at least three cases for culling stray dogs.
An office-bearer of the association said stray menace is “beyond redemption” now. “Our plan is aimed at containing it,” he added.
A senior police officer in Kochi said those who made the offer will be booked.
The scheme was inaugurated two days after the Supreme Court sought Kerala’s response to a complaint citing brutal killing of street dogs in Kottayam by a group of youth activists, who later organised a procession carrying their carcasses.
The Youth Front (Mani) that organized the rally carrying dog carcasses tied up on poles said the organization will distribute dogs after netting and dispatch them to animal-lovers who oppose move to restrict their numbers.
“We will catch these dogs and donate them to animal-lovers,” said Youth Front state president Saji Manjakadamban who was later booked for slaughtering dogs. “If they are so worried about the plight of dogs, let them rear them in their home. Nobody is shedding tears for victims of dog bite.”
The Youth Front rally in Kottayam town last week saw the members also shouting slogans against union minister Maneka Gandhi and the state government for “overlooking the plight” of people on the street.
The intensity of stray menace in Kerala came to the fore three months ago when an aged woman in Thiruvananthapuram was killed by a ferocious pack of dogs, which partly devoured her body. Till last month, the state reported more than 50,000 dog bites, four bite deaths and many rabies-inflicted deaths. Animal lovers have blamed poor waste-disposal method of the state for the multiplication of strays.
Most of the local bodies do not have the infrastructure and facilities required for ABC (animal birth control), prompting them to often resort to quick solutions. A majority of local bodies are yet to switch over from traditional sterilization method to keyhole surgery — a standard procedure followed globally.
According to veterinary doctors, keyhole surgery on a dog can enable it leave hospital in two days, whereas other surgeries would require at least four days of stay. So, many resort to easy ways, including culling the dogs. Since many prefer to rear male dogs, the domestic female canine population has dipped drastically, adding pressure on to the stray female population.