Kharghar housing society residents in grip of stray dog terror
Residents of Jal Vayu Vihar, a housing society in Kharghar, are facing attacks from stray dogs living in the compound. Animal lovers are demanding more feeding points to control the animals? aggression. The society management claims it is abiding by the Animal Welfare Board of India rules, as directed by the civic body.
Strap: 35 cases of attack and bite in last one year; animal lovers want more feeding points
A plush housing society in Kharghar has virtually turned into a battleground between a large chunk of residents who complain of attacks from stray dogs living in the compound and a handful of dog lovers who demand more feeding points to control the animals’ aggression.
Caught in the crossfire, the society management says it is abiding by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) rules, as directed by the civic body.
Jal Vayu Defence Enclave CHS Limited (phase I), known as Jal Vayu Vihar, is spread over 10 acres in sector 20. Along with 632 families, which are predominantly of retired defence personnel, the building also shelters nearly 50 stray dogs.
D S Johal, an ex-serviceman, said there have been several dog bite and attack cases which have left senior citizens and children injured. “Unfortunately, the law is in favour of the animals. AWBI seems to be harassing us. A handful of dog lovers are holding the residents to danger.”
Seconding his opinion, Apoorva Wanikar, another resident, said despite residing here for years she still gets scared at times when they rush towards her.
“For visitors, especially at night, it is a nightmare. I live on the 11th floor and am myself disturbed by their barking, so you can imagine the decibel level. In fact, our society, which is one of the best in the node, is now known for its stray dogs,” she said.
Animal caregivers are, however, feel differently.
Alka Wanikar, who has already approached the Panvel Municipal Corporation (PMC) over the issue, said, “The management has provided just one feeding place outside the rear gate, unlike in the past when there were 4-5 points and there were no instances of attack.”
Explaining the animals’ behavioural changes, she said there are more than 40 dogs and not all of them get to eat at the single feeding point since the bigger ones have the control. “There are several dogs that live in various corners of the society and are unable to get food. This leads to aggression.”
“The management fines us ₹1,000 if we have given even a biscuit to the strays elsewhere. We are also facing threats and abuses from residents. There are no corrective measures being taken like sterilisation,” she added.
When contacted, building’s secretary Vikram Rawat said residents are terrorised as children, including a five-year-old girl, have been bitten. “There have been 35 cases of attack and bite in the last one year alone. We are following up with the PMC to vaccinate the dogs and to sterilise them to help control their population.”
The managing committee is certainly not against the stray dogs and is fully complying with the AWBI norms, he said. “We have made provision for a feeding place where there are no senior citizens and children.”
About the fine, he clarified that penalty is for feeding the animals at wrong places. “Some feed dogs near their buildings, on cars, in parking areas, at playground etc.”
PMC’s deputy municipal commissioner Sachin Pawar said, “Following a complaint by a resident, we have issued a letter asking the society management to follow the AWBI guidelines.”
Samod Sarngan, a former journalist residing in the society, said there is a need for both sides to work out a solution. “You cannot expect senior citizens and children to not step out of their homes, just because someone loves dogs and wants them to be here.”
The residents can’t be fined either, he pointed out. “The law stipulates that animal caregivers can feed at designated spots after following norms. The management wants a dogs-free complex, but it should explore the possibility of relocating the animals elsewhere.”