VISAKHAPATNAM: The problem of stray and mad dogs in the city has turned out to be a huge menace with no proper action being initiated by the authorities concerned to properly treat and neuter the dogs to keep their numbers in control. The issue has turned so acute that the safety of people is now in jeopardy, if the rise in the number of cases of dog bites and attacks is any indication. More and more people across the city, including children, are being frequently hospitalised due to dog bites and attacks.
Following the incident at Simhachalam on Sunday in which a mad dog injured 15 persons, two of them seriously, demands are pouring in from the public from across the 72 divisions and Anakapalle and Bheemili areas that the GVMC should take immediate action to end the stray dog menace.
The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is long supposed to have found a solution to the problem in the city. However, though several plans have been drafted, nothing has materialised, and the dog population continued to be on the rise.
According to the officials of the GVMC, there are approximately 1.5 lakh stray dogs in the city -- however, the GVMC does not have any scientific statistics to support the fact. The GVMC is claiming that it has been conducting birth control operations to stray dogs since 2005, at the rate of 75 dogs per week, but still the population of stray dogs remains over one lakh.
According to veterinarians, a dog aged above seven months is capable of giving birth to a minimum of four puppies once in every six months. While GVMC’s statistics claim that around 28,000 dogs have been operated upon, their population has not come down in any season.
Following a court direction, the government, through the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), has directed all the municipalities and municipal corporations not to kill any dogs and ordered them to take up Animal Birth Control measures (Dogs). The AWBI also released the rules and regulations for the ABC(D).
“Adopting the ABC(D) guidelines in the city, the GVMC has started the birth control programme in association with an NGO, Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA). On an average, 75 dogs are claimed to be operated upon by the VSPCA for which the AWBI is paying `445 per dog, including the Anti Rabies Vaccination. The role of the GVMC in the programme is only to catch the dogs and hand them over to the VSPCA. The NGO should perform the operation and also provide post-operative care for two days,” said GVMC veterinary officer B Rama Mohana Rao. The guidelines also clearly state that all the operated dogs should be given Anti Rabies Vaccination and after post-operative care, must be dropped off in the areas where they have been caught, Ram Mohana Rao added.
Stressing the high need for public safety, the former commissioner of GVMC MV Ramanjaneyulu earlier directed the officials to prepare plans to set up one dog shelter in every zone. The officials prepared the plans to construct one dog shelter and also to take up the ABC(D) in every zone. Ramanjaneyulu announced that more vehicles, staff and para medical staff would be brought in to minimise the dog strengths in the city.
According to estimations, the veterinary department alone needs Rs 1.5 crore to carry out the above mentioned plan, but for the last two years the proposals have been gathering dust. Meanwhile, the dog menace continues to increase in the city, with even fatal incidents being reported from some areas because of the failure to bring the dog population under control.