The Kerala Government’s decision to cull troublesome street dogs has run into rough weather with animal lovers opposing it vehemently saying it would trigger mindless killing of canines. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body working under the ministry of environment and forests, has also warned the state and local bodies that it would take strict action if they resort to mass killings.
An all-party meet convened by chief minister Oommen Chandy two days ago had decided to take strict measures to curb stray menace including culling of aggressive dogs and implement animal birth control (ABC) measures on a war-footing. The state had to press the panic button after 40,000-odd dog-bite cases were reported in eight months.
The officials of the AWBI said the state government’s decision was erroneously based on a judgment of the Kerala High in 2006 permitting culling of street dogs. However in 2013 the Supreme Court had stayed permission granted by Bombay and Karnataka high courts, they point out.
Animal-lovers fear that the latest decision would trigger a massive killing of strays. “Some of the local bodies have started planning mass culling. They often resort to inhuman ways like injecting cyanide and poisoning to do away with them. The latest decision is a licence to kill poor dogs,” said Sharda Nair, a retired government servant, who often spends time to nurse injured strays.
“The state should have started a massive sterilisation programme long back. At some places dog trainers have converted strays into good guards. We have to use their service instead of killing them. Poor waste-management was another reason for their multiplication,” said another dog lover.
According to a survey conducted by the state animal husbandry department there are around 9.23 domestic dogs and 2.70 lakh strays in the state. Since many prefer to rear male dogs domestic female canine population has dipped drastically adding much pressure on to the stray female population. Currently there are only 1500 vet surgeons in the state. It needs at least double the number to carry out sterilisation programmes. Since most of the local bodies don’t have required infrastructure and facilities for ABC (animal birth control) often they resort to quick means.
Interestingly majority of local bodies are yet to switch over from traditional sterilisation method to keyhole surgery, a standard procedure followed globally. According to vets if key hole surgery is performed a dog can leave hospital in two days whereas in other cases at least four days are needed.
State Animal Husbandry director Chandran Kutty said at least 100 veterinary surgeons will be hired immediately to launch a massive sterilisation programme. Lack of enough vet surgeons, trained dog handlers and dearth of supporting staff and poor infrastructure at hospitals cirpple ABC programme in the state The chief minister has convened another meeting next week with local body chiefs to address these issues.