VISAKHAPATNAM: Vizagites should endure the stray dog menace for at least 10 more years, according to the GVMC’s action plan to control breeding of dogs in the city. Several veterinarians say that sterilisation is not an ideal solution to control the alarming problem as a dog’s life span is 13-15 years. If the GVMC’s latest claim that 70,000 dogs had been sterilised and another 30,000 remain to be sterilised is true, then the stray dog problem in the city will continue for over a decade going by the current pace of sterilisation.
During the past 15 years, the GVMC announced that the Corporation had been taking massive sterilisation programmes to control dog breeding by spending `450 on a dog directly and about another `400 indirectly (for dog catcher, vehicles, drivers, fuel and food to the dog for three days). Already `6 crore was spent to sterilise 70,000 dogs. The GVMC and an animal welfare NGO have been sterilising 40 dogs a day. Even if the GVMC continues sterilisation round-the-clock, it takes two years to sterilise the remaining 30,000 stray dogs.
“Sterilisation of dogs is not the right option when dog population is growing exponentially. It is useless and a waste of public money. The GVMC officially announced that 30,000 dogs are yet to be sterilised and of them at least 50 per cent are female dogs which can give birth to another 75,000 puppies in one season, of which at least 45,000 will survive. If the sex ratio is 50:50 a total of 22,500 bitches will be ready to breed in over six months. A dog will give birth to at least 10 puppies in two seasons in a year, implying that the GVMC should open an exclusive department with huge budget to control breeding of dogs. If the process continues, there will be no end to this menace. It is like trying to fill a leaking pot with water,” a senior veterinary professor opined.
Meanwhile, denizens are furious over the snail’s pace in checking dog menace. While sterilisation bears fruit in the long run, considering a dog’s life span, citizens wonder how to protect their children from dogs.
“Can the GVMC give an assurance that the sterilised dogs won’t bite and kill people? How can we stop children from going out? Not only children, many bikers also meet the same fate when feocious dogs attack them. Who will take responsibility for the death of Sivakesav, the two-year-old boy? The GVMC washed off its hands by handing over `50,000. Can we cage our children like animals for safety?” L Padmaja, a government teacher, pointed out.
But the officials said that they had no option except sterilisation, and sought a public debate on the issue. “In view of public health, pigs are being killed. But why did the Animal Welfare Board of India impose stringent rules and regulations for dogs? There’s also a High Court stay order on this. NGOs and individuals should mull over and initiate a debate and launch a legal fight on the issue,” a senior GVMC official suggested.
Contacted, GVMC chief medical officer MVV Muralimohan accepted that sterilisation would only give results in the long run and the stray dog threat would continue in the meanwhile. The CMO also accepted that sterilisation is being done indiscriminately on dogs that were brought by dog-catchers. The GVMC is gearing up to increase the sterilisations, and currently 40 dogs a day are being sterilised, Muralimohan said.