Many people in Bangalore are up in arms against a plan by the civic authorities to restrict the number of dogs they can keep. They have launched an online campaign that is receiving support from all over India and even as far away as Australia and Canada.
Over 730 people have already signed the online petition protesting the BBMP or Greater Bangalore City Corporation's plan to limit the number of dogs one can own - three pedigreed dogs in independent homes and one in an apartment block house - and also to approve the breeds.
Apart from the number limit, what has raised the hackles of dog lovers is that the BMMP will approve the breed. It will also auction or kill any pet dog that is lost and not claimed within three days by its owner.
"We accept that BBMP's intent is animal welfare. However, the clauses, as articulated in the draft proposal, will only hinder pet owners and animal lovers who genuinely care for and seek to help homeless and abandoned dogs as well as pets," says the online petition.
The petition is titled "Let not the dogs, their owners and genuine dog lovers of Bangalore suffer." Its sponsors include Suhas Somayaji, a design engineer and animal lover, his wife Shilpa Nabhan, an IT professional, and four of their friends - Ankush Handa, Aparna, Michelle Stewart and Sonali Raval.
Besides the online petition, the campaign by the six on their Facebook page has also attracted support.
"As it is, dog lovers face the irrational ire of many people who try to stop us from feeding and caring for dogs. The new laws proposed by BBMP will only serve as additional instruments of persecution," the campaign says.
It was launched online Oct 28 and as of Sunday 528 had signed with many from abroad - Australia, Canada, Britain, Russia, Croatia, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, the United States, Latvia and Singapore.
Till Monday evening, 738 had signed the online petition, overshooting the targeted 700 signatures. Those behind the petition are seeking a meeting with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.
BBMP Mayor S.K. Natraj has sought to justify the proposal, saying strict action is needed to curb the growing stray dog menace as many Bangaloreans have been sheltering or feeding strays.
The civic authorities estimate the dog population in the city to be around 300,000, of which around 200,000 are stray dogs.
The BBMP has decided to restrict the number, approve the breed and also collect a license fee of Rs.250 per year for keeping dogs.
Recently in a residential area in west Bangalore, a group of people staged a protest as a resident in their neighbourhood was 'sheltering' around 30 stray dogs.
The residents complained that the strays have become a big nuisance and that they were scared to allow their children to play there or let the elderly to go out alone. The Bangalore civic authorities have promised action to clear the area of strays.
The BBMP has launched a sterilisation programme to check the stray dog population and says it has been spending nearly Rs.4 crore a year in the last three years on the programme.