KOCHI: With Kochi Corporation facing a shortage of dog catchers to implement its animal birth control (ABC) programme for canines, stray dog attacks have seen a sharp rise in the last few weeks. On Friday alone, nine people were bitten in the West Kochi area.
The corporation’s opposition leader, Antony Kureethara, said the ABC programme is proving to be a failure. “Though the civic body claims that the programme is being implemented effectively, the truth is that only four dog catchers are working with the health department for the entire city,” he alleged.
Admitting a shortage of dog catchers, health standing committee chairman T K Ashraf said several measures are being adopted by the department. “The ABC programme is running effectively even with four dog catchers and a team of veterinary doctors,” he said. “Nobody is interested in joining the team. But, we are managing with four catchers,” said Ashraf.
Under the programme, stray dogs are sterilised and then released in the same location where they were picked up from after five days. “These dogs wander the streets and continue to pose a threat to the public. “The issue will not be resolved until authorities relocate them from the streets to a safer place with adequate food supply,” said Agnes Mary, a Fort Kochi resident and animal lover.
Ashraf said Friday’s incidents in West Kochi involved a single pet dog. “This dog was abandoned by its owner in an isolated street in Fort Kochi. The health department took immediate action and caught the dog. The situation is under control. This is not the first instance of abandoned dogs wandering the streets and attacking tourists. People have to be more sensible and adopt the right measures before abandoning their dogs,” said Ashraf.
Mayor M Anilkumar said the ABC programme has been implemented effectively, but conceded that it has its limitations. “The corporation is spending enough funds for the programme. Suggestions like dog islands are not practically possible,” the mayor said.