THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Corporation’s ABC programme has come to a standstill due to an HC order that prevents engaging Kudumbashree workers to manage the stray dog population.Though the renovated ABC centre at Vandithadam opens next week, corp needs to hire a surgeon to improve its citywide operations
It’s been nearly one year since the ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme of the city corporation came to a grinding halt. The programme suffered a setback when the Kerala High Court stayed the state government’s decision to entrust the task of managing the stray dog population in the city with Kudumbashree Mission. Since then, the civic body has been struggling to keep the number of stray dogs in check.
Things deteriorated when the ABC Centre at Vandithadam was shut down in December following complaints of animal rights violations. Activists had raised serious allegations against the facility after several stray dogs caught by the civic body for sterilisation died. The HC intervened, following which the civic body devised a slew of initiatives for the scientific management of stray dogs and to make the capital a dog-friendly city. However, barring a puppy adoption drive, the civic body was unable to do much on the ground.
The corporation’s plan to rope in NGOs for implementing the programme also remained a non-starter as, according to a senior official, there are no eligible NGOs in the capital for undertaking the programme. As per norms, only NGOs and agencies having accreditation from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) can be roped in for the ABC programme.
“Currently, we can at most sterilise two dogs per day at our facility in Pettah. For effective results, we have to do it on a large scale. Some NGOs are trying to get the AWBI accreditation but it will take time. Though some private organisations are ready to take up the programme, they are demanding more money, way more than what the government has allotted for the project. We are getting several complaints of stray dog menace. However, the number of dog bite cases is fewer than neighbouring municipalities and panchayats,” said the official, who did not want to be named.
Renovated centre to open
The civic body is currently renovating the closed-down ABC Centre at Vandithanam for `20 lakh. A senior official with the corporation said the renovated facility with improved infrastructure, would start operations from next week. “We will be able to sterilise around 20 dogs per day at the renovated centre,” said the official. Also, the civic body has only one veterinary surgeon carrying out the sterilisation. “We are planning to hire one more surgeon. The proposal will be tabled in the next council meeting,” said the official.
The renovated centre has more kennels and isolation rooms among other facilities. Around 50 cages worth `12 lakh have been installed. This apart, the corporation is also planning to set up a first-of-its-kind ABC centre-cum-multispeciality veterinary hospital at Thiruvallam for `4 crore. The project is expected to be completed within two years. “The project is being set up on the lines of the one at Kozhikode and has received technical and administrative sanctions. A team from the corporation visited the Kozhikode hospital to study its infrastructure and the facilities it has,” said the official. “The construction work will officially take off this year. It will be implemented in a time-bound manner,” said the official, adding, “The hospital will act as a one-stop care centre for all pet-related emergencies and also offer medical care for to rescued animals.”
Feeding points for strays
To make the capital city stray dog-friendly, the civic body has started identifying feeding points at various locations. Around 150 spots have been identified so far. The civic body is planning to launch the programme by this month, but not on a grand scale owing to the unavailability of services from NGOs.
“We need services of more NGOs to make the initiative a success. Some NGOs are helping us carry out adoption drives. They can be used for the rescue and rehabilitation of dogs too. Currently, we are in the process of identifying locations. The plan is to put up sign boards at designated spots. Resistance from local residents is also a concern. However, there are many people and organisations who feed dogs and we are trying to make them a part of the initiative. We will submit the list of the locations and the project proposal for council approval soon,” said the official.