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Cyclists, joggers face stray dog threat

Cyclists, joggers, walkers and residents are demanding measures to curb stray dog menace as incidents involving them are on the rise in the capital.

Published: 07th July 2021 06:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2021 06:57 AM   |  A+A-

A pack of stray dogs barking at a person jogging at Pettah Railway Station, a popular spot used by local residents for jogging, in Thiruvananthapuram | B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With lockdown restrictions being eased, people have resumed their outdoor exercise routine. But with fewer people on streets and food being thrown in the open because of lack of dine-in options, strays have taken over several bylanes 

Cyclists, joggers, walkers and residents are demanding measures to curb stray dog menace as incidents involving them are on the rise in the capital. Ever since lockdown restrictions were relaxed, people have restarted outdoor exercise routine. The worst affected are the cyclists, who are being chased and barked at by violent strays. Following this, many people have demanded proper rehabilitation of dogs and making the streets more friendly for the public.

Farhaan A, a cyclist, said he is scared to venture out alone to ride because of the fear of strays. “The strays have literally taken over byroads and streets. It’s not safe to ride alone anymore. We normally go riding during the early morning hours and that is the time when the strays are more aggressive. They chase us and we cannot ride beyond a speed limit like on motorcycles and they can run really fast and keep up with us. It’s scary and many of my friends have fallen down. The strays may not bite but many get scared when the dogs chase and lose their balance and fall down. We advise our fellow riders to always wear helmets because a fall could be more dangerous than dog bites,” said Farhaan

According to authorities, packs of stray dogs have taken over byroads and main roads because of fewer human activities during the lockdown. Many cyclists have taken up the matter with the city corporation demanding a solution to the problem. Several social media posts have sprouted regarding stray dog attacks following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. Anjana Nair, a jogger, said whenever she sees dogs on her way, she crosses the road to avoid an encounter with them. “They too deserve space and I try not to provoke them. I just change my route by crossing the road and try not to run faster to avoid their attention,” said Anjana, who hails from Kazhakoottam.

Corp residents allege neglect
The residents’ associations in the capital are blaming the city corporation’s apathy for the growing stray dog menace. According to M Sashidharan Nair, general secretary of CONFRA (Confederation of Residents’ Associations), the civic body is turning a blind eye towards the issues faced by the residents.
 “Stray dog issue is severe in our area and they sneak into our premises and many of us are scared to step out and walk freely. Recently, we informed the dog squad under the civic body seeking help and they haven’t responded yet. Also, they are demanding money for their service. The civic body is collecting taxes and it’s its responsibility to provide a safe and clean environment for the residents. 

Here, the main problem is inappropriate management of waste by the corporation. The LDF dispensation that has been leading the corporation council has failed to find proper solutions to address waste management. Waste is getting dumped in the open drawing more strays,” said Sashidharan Nair. He said the confederation has taken up the matter with the new government. “We have already given a memorandum to the new minister seeking  his intervention in this regard,” he added.

ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS SEEK MORE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH
According to animal welfare organisations, the civic body should adopt a more scientific approach while handling strays. Latha Indira, secretary of People for Animal (PFA), said stray dogs are part of our ecosystem and people should be more compassionate and take a friendly approach towards them. She said no incidents of stray dog attack have been reported in the areas where her organisation is feeding them. “The residents’ associations have a key role to play and instead of raising complaints.

They should take efforts to feed the dogs in their areas. They are friendly animals and often aggressive behaviour is shown by abandoned dogs. The civic body should start more ABC centres and shelter homes to rehabilitate abandoned dogs,” said Latha. She said rehabilitating the entire dog population is impractical. “The civic body should relocate aggressive dogs and abandoned dogs and the rest of them should be left free.” The civic body is carrying out the ABC programme without proper monitoring, she added.  

CIVIC BODY TO TAKE DOG CENSUS
With complaints mounting, the new corporation council has decided to launch a comprehensive survey to find out the actual count of stray dogs in the capital. Mayor Arya Rajendran told TNIE that the new council has noticed the issue. “The only practical solution is to carry out an ABC programme which, according to my knowledge, is happening effectively. The councillors are demanding an alternative solution because of growing complaints.

The issue is severe in some pockets and bylanes in the corporation area. We are seriously considering the plan to set up more rehabilitation centres and relocate violent strays to make the city safer,” said Arya Rajendran. A senior official of the corporation said around 20 dogs are sterilised every day. “Sterilisation would help them stay calm. A female stray can reproduce around 16 cubs every year and the dog population would go up if ABC is not done. Ever since the lockdown, people are dumping food waste around as dining in services are not allowed now. Consumption of too many non-vegetarian items makes the strays more aggressive,” said the official.


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