With the canine population crossing 10-lakh mark in Kashmir region, the organisation has finally decided to create special posts of dog-catchers with the eligibility criteria of being young, agile and caring at the same time.
The Srinagar Municipal Committee (SMC) started 'talent hunt' last week, initially interviewing for 10 dog-catchers posts. "We received 100 applications for the posts. Interestingly, the applicants were not only from a particular community background. Besides 12th Class pass-outs also applied for the posts," Srinagar health officer Dr Rubeena Shaheen told the Hindustan Times.
Shaheen said the SMC is looking for agile and young dog-catchers. "We mainly interviewed candidates between the age group of 20-30. Our main thrust in the interview was on agility and health of a person. Dog catching is a tedious process and requires experts," said the health officer.
The SMC is planning to train the dog catchers in trapping and dog care. These dog catchers will be posted at dog pounds coming up in Srinagar at the cost of Rs 900 crore over 2,500 kanals (312.5 acre) of land.
The Srinagar high court's division bench directed the government in August this year to create pounds as it feared that "dogs will be stoned to death by locals". In reply, the SMC told the court it will take Rs 98 crore annually to maintain dog pounds.
Kashmir Valley has become a den of dogs. "Srinagar with 14 lakh humans has 80,000 dogs," said Dr Muhammad Salim Khan of the Community Medicine department, Government Medical College, Srinagar.
"If a female dog lives her reproductive life of 12 years and whelps six puppies every 6 months from 2 years of age onwards, she will mathematically produce no less 80,000 dog progeny in her life of 14 years. It is anticipated that if there are 80,000 dogs in Srinagar city today, there will be no less than 20 lakh dogs in another five years, exceeding human population," said Dr Khan.
But animal activists in the state, backed by known activist Maneka Gandhi, have been opposing any move to control dog population through selective killing mechanism.
The SMC, however, is grappling the menace, with dog bites taking phenomenal toll among children this year, with seven fatal attacks. Since 2005, the Srinagar hospital has received more than 20,000 dog bite cases.
The SMC arranged to train their staff in the art of catching stray dogs from a US team in February this year but failed. The SMC also tried to hire services of 'pied piper' Khursheed Ahmad Mir (54), an MBA, who claimed to use scientific technology. The experiment was shelved because he charged Rs 20 crore.
In a separate initiative, the SMC planned to sterilize male ones and marking them with studs to avoid confusion. The SMC then submitted a Rs 4.5-crore project before the Animal Welfare Board, Government of India, for expert advice and funds for scientific sterilization of dogs.