ABC of strays goes astray

According to councillors and animal rights activists, the birth control programme of dogs is being used as a money-making opportunity and not carried out in earnestness

Published: 31st October 2019 07:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2019 07:04 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A recent incident of a dog running amok and biting a few people in the city has brought the attention back to the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme being implemented by the city corporation. According to councillors in the opposition and animal rights activists, the sterilisation programme is not being implemented properly and the mounting garbage waste has further accentuated the problem. 

Even when the corporation officials maintain that the recent episode was a one-off incident, animal rights activists allege that the lackadaisical manner with which sterilisation is being carried out by the government body has only compounded the problem. Using Kudumbashree for implementing the ABC programme is also being flayed.

On Tuesday, a dog went about biting people and other dogs in Chalai and Karamana areas. Following reports, the corporation’s dog squad scoured the area. Twenty-five dogs were picked up for sterilisation from these areas on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

“The sterilisation programme has turned into a money-minting business. It is not being implemented properly and even the sterilised dogs are giving birth. This indicates that dogs are not being sterilised properly, rather they are just picked up randomly and let off. Improper management of waste is yet another reason for the increase in the population of dogs,” says Karamana Ajith, Karamana councillor.
Echoing the same sentiment is M Lakshmi, Valiyashala councillor. Although she doesn’t recall any incidents of street dogs biting people in her ward, she says the mounting garbage menace has only increased the problem. “Chicken waste gets dumped in the streets. Despite several complaints to the police and the corporation with proof, no action has been taken against the people who dump the waste. Moreover, proper sterilisation is also not being carried out,” says Lakshmi.

Foulplay in sterilisation?
Animal rights activists allege that the sterilisation programme being implemented is a sham, which is purely used for minting money. 

“Only if sterilisation is performed properly will the population of stray dogs reduce. There is no monitoring per se. According to the rules, a monitoring committee needs to be present. The committee has been formed, but it has been years since the committee last met,” says Latha Indira, a member of the monitoring committee and secretary of People for Animals (PFA). 
“According to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) rules, a recognised NGO needs to be part of the sterilisation programme. When such recognised NGOs are present in the city, Kudumbashree, which has no experience in the field, is performing the surgeries.

Even the welfare measures are not adhered to. The dogs are kept crammed in cages and are caught inhumanely by people who aren’t trained,” she says. 
The animal welfare activists also allege that the money involved in the whole programme is another reason for foul play. “One of the main problems is the money involved. An amount of Rs 2,100 is earmarked for one dog.  Hence, rather than performing the surgery properly and giving post-operative care, dogs are picked up randomly, the surgery is performed and the dog is let out without adhering to the stipulated norms. Sadly, the focus is on increasing the number of dogs caught and getting the money,” says Sreedevi S Kartha, an animal rights activist. 

Corp brushes aside allegations

Meanwhile, corporation Health Standing chairman K Sreekumar said that ABC was being carried out regularly at veterinary hospitals in Vandithadom and Pettah. “We are sterilising 300 dogs per month at these centres. The programme which started three years ago is running smoothly and the allegations against it are baseless. We implement the programme in wards identified to have a considerable number of stray dog population.

We also intervene when we’re notified by councillors or residents’ organisations,” says Sreekumar.  The corporation doctor who is supervising the ABC programme said the incident on Tuesday was a one-off one, which could be a rabid dog attack and that ABC is being implemented properly. “It will take some time to see the results of the ABC programme. It could take maybe eight years, but gradually the population of stray dogs will reduce. The sterilisation is being implemented following all norms,” said Dr Sreerag Jayan.


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