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Briton fights for canines in Kerala

A census conducted by the state’s animal husbandry department in 2003 recorded that the city had a stray dog population of 17,000, reports KumKum Dasgupta.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2007 04:43 IST

Five years after she set up Animal Rescue Kerala (ARK), British national Avis Lyons is fighting tooth and nail for her canine friends. Up against an indifferent local administration that is flouting all rules to kill stray dogs in their effort to control the growing canine population, the gritty 65-year-old is not ready to give up without a fight.

“I sold my home in England to fund ARK. I am not going to give up without a fight. The Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation (TMC) is killing stray dogs. This is illegal and similar to what happened in Bangalore last year,” she says.

Lyons came to Kerala as a tourist some years ago and stayed on after she found the conditions of stray dogs “appalling”. Over the last three years, she has sterilised and vaccinated hundreds of dogs in Vizhinjam panchayat, 10 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

A census conducted by the state’s animal husbandry department in 2003 recorded that the city had a stray dog population of 17,000. Understandably, there has been huge public pressure on the civil authorities to control the spurt in canine population. The matter reached the courtrooms in 2004 and the Kerala High Court and the Ombudsman ordered the TMC to implement a scheme called ‘Suraksha’ to control the “menace”. Armed with this legal diktat, the TMC began pursuing the programme. But the method used by the TMC for controlling the canine population has shocked animal lovers. Instead of sterilising and vaccinating them, TMC is killing the dogs.

The Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 forbids capturing and killing of stray dogs. But TMC, alleges Lyons, is just doing that.

Talking to HT, Thiruvananthapuram Mayor C. Jayan Babu said the corporation would soon introduce animal-friendly and humane methods to control the stray dog menace.

Lyons also alleges that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) is aware of this inhuman method used by the TMC. “The ‘Suraksha’ programme flouts the ABC-AR guidelines. But the AWBI is supporting them and has signed a MoU with the TMC to fund the programme that only aims to kill the dogs,” alleges Lyons.

Denying this allegation, AWBI member S.K. Mittal said that the Corporation has not signed any MoU and is trying to find out an amicable solution to the problem”.

(With inputs from Ramesh Babu)

First Published: Jun 18, 2007 04:42 IST