THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The District Medical Office has recorded a spike in the number of dog bites in Thiruvananthapuram in 2020. Allegations are rife that sterilisation drives are carried out without a proper census on dog population in the district
Though the authorities claim that everything is smooth with the conduct of the ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme in the district, animal welfare organisations are unhappy with the execution of the sterilisation drive. According to them, Kudumbashree -- the agency roped in for executing the ABC programme -- is incompetent to carry out the job.
The District Medical Office (DMO) highlighted a spike in the number of dog bite cases in the district. As per the data with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), around 17,400 dog bite cases were reported in Thiruvananthapuram during 2020. As per residents, there was no respite from dog menace despite the ABC programme launched by local bodies. Confederation of Residents Association (CONFRA) general secretary Sashidharan Nair said that people are apprehensive to venture out of their homes, fearing dog bites. “We had staged a protest in front of the Secretariat in 2018 demanding a solution to street dog menace. The situation remains the same,” he said.
An official associated with the ABC programme of the Thiruvananthapuram corporation said that sterilisation and vaccination are conducted regularly. “Every month, nearly 400 sterilisation drives are carried out at our facilities in Thiruvallam and Pettah. It is a long-term process. As per our estimates, we have sterilised 60 per cent of the street dog population in city limits,” said a corporation official. Residents feel the programme will be effective only if such drives are carried out in neighbouring panchayats and municipality areas.
No reliable census, says animal welfare organisation
Allegations are rife that the sterilisation drive is being carried out without a proper census on the dog population in the district. People For Animals (PFA), Thiruvananthapuram Chapter, secretary Latha Indira said that a census was carried out by the Animal Husbandry Department back in 2012. As per norms, a district-level monitoring committee must meet and analyse the progress of the drive. Latha said it does not take place. “There is no exact figure on the dog population in the district.
In 2014-15, the corporation had carried out a survey on the dog population within the city limits. In some areas, the dog population has increased and in the rest, the situation is under control. There is no monitoring on the sterilisation programme being executed by Kudumbashree,” said Latha. She stressed that PFA has sent multiple letters to the Kudumbashree Mission and the authorities of the local bodies to ensure monitoring of the sterilisation drive. “The general public tends to contact us as they are uncertain on those responsible for the ABC programme,” said Latha.
Animal welfare organisations have also raised complaints that the dogs being caught by Kudumbashree are not being released at the same spot, which is one of the key rules. According to them, dogs become aggressive when they aren’t set free in their familiar territory.
“A majority of the cases being reported as dog bite are caused by pets or domestic animals. Many NGOs have come forward expressing interest in carrying out sterilisation drives but the local bodies are disinterested. Kudumbashree considers this as a revenue-making sector but organisations like ours stand for the welfare and well-being of the dogs. Unfortunately, the authorities are not considering our request to carry out a sterilisation drive,” said Latha.
Awareness campaign needed
According to officials, there needs to be a comprehensive awareness drive to sensitise the public, who see stray dogs as a threat. “NGOs should come forward and launch vaccination drives. They have a bigger role to play in building awareness among the public and bring a change in attitude towards stray dogs. We have to coexist with them,” said a corporation official.
Dog bite incidents reported in dist
December around 1,300