CHENNAI: Lead by example, government offices!
Walking by the Vidhana Soudha with its sleeping dogs, I was seized of this thought. While the Supreme Court mandate is clear on responsible stray dog management via Animal Birth Control and Anti Rabies Vaccination, as is the Animal Welfare Board of India and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it is shocking that the very agencies that should be implementing this are failing to do so.
In fact, we are amazed to find not only a large number of intact, unsterilised dogs at Vidhana Soudha for example, but hugely concerned that legislators, policemen and administrators (who should not only know the laws, but help enforce it), are often mistakenly trying to get rid of the dogs by illegal relocation or culling. In addition, they are guilty of driving out or harassing feeders and caretakers on this issue. Not only does it show our government and lawmakers in a poor light, but it is illegal, ignorant and sets a poor example. What will the citizens across apartments, resident welfare associations and communities learn from this behaviour? How can we have a safe and controlled population of street dogs in Bengaluru, or any place in India, if the government offices themselves are culpable?
At a recent session at Vidhana Soudha, while feeding a mother dog Heartlie and her pups, I was shooed away at the gate by a cop as the ACP in charge there had banned any feeding and on the orders of a legislator, was planning to get them relocated the next day. Really? We immediately tweeted the police and stopped this. But it makes one think, why is the fence eating the crop? Why do the bureaucracy have a problem with knowing or implementing the laws that they themselves make? In fact, many actually break them due to ignorance, indifference, lack of proper guidance, sheer high handedness, or just because they think they can. This is wrong.
The chief minister should make it mandatory to ensure all government and public sector offices make an example to the community and its citizenry by responsible animal management and proper coordination for ABV and ARV. We suggest an information and compassion drive across offices, with the help of the administration or the Dept of Admin Reforms, proper circulars to office staff, and coordination with concerned NGOs handling ABC, ARV and training.
The first start should be with the Vidhana Soudha, High Court and the BBMP offices, where there are a large number of dogs, in addition to confused staff causing delays in ABC/ARV, which could reduce population and increase people's safety. Post offices, police stations, electricity and water boards, hospitals, museums and parks should be targeted. A certificate displaying that dogs in the compound are safe, that is, neutered/vaccinated, will promote confidence and motivate others. We would like this to filter across all government offices, and have a proper media briefing so public is made aware of the drive.
The government will be doing a great service to the community and helpless animals by taking these suggestions in the right spirit, and in doing so, demonstrate its role as a model citizen as well.
Kya idea, Sirjee.
The author is a CXO search consultant, civic evangelist, Bangalore champion, Google-Doodle aspirer and certified dog slave since 2007