It is no exaggeration that stray dogs are the major problem being faced by the state of Kerala at present. The magnitude of the problem is evident from the spine-chilling incident in which a 65-year-old woman was almost 'devoured' by a pack of dogs in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
In its latest move, Kerala has decided not to implement the directives of the Animal Welfare Board of India against culling rabid and violent stray dogs. Earlier, the Board had said it will strongly oppose the move by the state as it amounts to violation of Supreme Court guidelines. However, the Cabinet noted that the decision will not violate SC order.
Stray dog menace has been a point of debate in Kerala for the last few years after an increase in incidents of attacks by the animals, and was also raised in the Assembly earlier this year. According to a report submitted in the Supreme Court recently in a connected case, more than one lakh people in Kerala have been bitten by dogs in 2015-16. In 2016 alone, 31,334 people were bitten.
Shocking figures calls for urgent need to address the menace which is threatening the safety of the people. Since 2012, 49 have been killed in stray dog attacks in the state, according to Justice Sirijagan committee report.
According to the report, there are around 2.5 lakh stray dogs in Kerala. The state capital has over 20,000 dogs and their number is increasing alarmingly.
The main reason for the phenomenal increase in the number of stray dogs in the state is the unscientific waste disposal and practice of dumping waste in public places.
The state government had spent Rs 19.34 crore for anti-rabies vaccine in the past four years. The government has also set up 52 sterilization centres in selected veterinary hospitals in the state at a cost of Rs 2 crore under the Animal Birth Control scheme.
Compensation of Rs 5 lakh to victim's family
The govt announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of a 65-year-old woman who was killed by a pack of street dogs near here, even as it reiterated its commitment to tackle the menace. The decision on the compensation was taken at the state cabinet meeting held here, Minister for Local Administration K T Jaleel said.
State Govt for culling violent dogs; Centre opposes move
Minister for Local Self Governments K T Jaleel said the state government has directed local bodies to put rabid and violent stray dogs to death through injection. Jaleel said the government now has to ensure there are adequate veterinary doctors to carry out sterilization of stray dogs. Around Rs 2,000 per animal will have to be spent for sterilisation.
However, the Animal Welfare Board of India has opposeed the Kerala Government’s decision. Board Chairman Dr R.M. Kharb has said that the state should not go ahead with the plan. It is against law and amounts to violation of Supreme Court order, he added. Kharb said he will send a notice to the state asking it to roll back the decision.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed officials to take urgent steps to catch stray canine with the help of trained dog catchers.
He gave the direction during a meeting held here to discuss measures to overcome the stray canine menace in the backdrop of the death of Silvamma. The meeting decided on initiation of comprehensive steps to tackle the problem with the cooperation of various state departments. In areas where the street dog menace is serious, the canines would be trapped immediately and subjected to sterilisation. With the cooperation of civic bodies, street dogs would be caught and sterilised. Later, they would be kept in separate shelters.
Maneka Gandhi flayed
The residents of Pulluvila are still in shock over the brutal killing of their neighbour by stray dogs. But they are also angry over the inaction of the authorities concerned who are responsible for the situation they are facing as well as the views being expressed by the so-called animal lovers.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi had said that Silvamma might have been attacked by the dogs because she could have been carrying meat with her. The women of Pulluvila want the minister to come and take a look at their living conditions before making such comments.
Incidentally, as many as eight people live in the one-room house of Silvamma. Many of the houses here have no toilet facility.
Mandatory licensing of pet dogs
Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is planning to make mandatory a licensing system for pet dogs within one month. Under the system, license would be made mandatory for city dwellers to buy or possess pet dogs.
The canines should also be vaccinated after particular intervals as per the direction of veterinarians. The Corporation has also decided to strengthen its dog squads to catch stray dogs wandering on the city roads and sterilise them as part of the ABC programme.