Kerala plans to control stray dog population, rejects Maneka’s suggestion

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The Kerala government has ordered all local civic bodies to implement animal birth control (ABC) measures on a war-footing after stray dogs claimed their 10th victim this year on Wednesday.
The state government has also rejected union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi’s suggestion to impose goonda act (Kerala Anti-social Prevention Activities Act) on those who cull stray dogs. The minister’s suggestion came in the wake of reports that people threatened by stray dogs have started killing them in different parts of the state.
On Wednesday a pack of stray dogs attacked a 90-year-old man in Varkala (south Kerala) while he was sleeping on the portico of his house. The senior citizen who suffered serious injuries, later died at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. Three months ago, a pack of strays attacked a woman on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram and partly devoured her body.
“The minister’s suggestion is not practical. If she wants to know the real danger it is better she visit the state and meet some of the bite victims,” said local bodies’ minister K T Jaleel. The opposition Congress has also slammed the minister. “It seems she has turned blind with her love for animals. Before making such irresponsible statements she should first understand the grave threat posed to people here,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
In an interview to a Malayalam news channel Maneka said some anti-social elements were “turning heroes overnight by killing poor dogs” and she wanted the state police chief to arrest them under the prevalent anti-social act and other stringent provisions.
According to the report of a Supreme Court appointed panel headed by retired Kerala high court judge Siri Jagan to study the menace of stray dogs, around one lakh people have been bitten by dogs in 20015-16. Hearing a batch of petitions recently the SC had asked why Kerala was facing a peculiar dog bite menace.
Fitness freaks had made a fervent plea to the government recently saying most of them were forced to cut down their morning jogs fearing canine fury. Almost 70% of the dog bite victims have been joggers, minors and senior citizens. However, animal lovers blame poor sterilization programmes and waste management system for the large stray dog population. According to a survey conducted by the state animal husbandry department there are around 9.23 domestic dogs and 2.70 lakh strays in the state.
Majority of local bodies are yet to switch over from traditional sterilization method to keyhole surgery, a standard procedure followed globally. According to vets if keyhole surgery is performed a dog can leave hospital in two days whereas in other cases at least four days needed. Lack of enough veterinary surgeons, trained dog handlers and poor infrastructure at hospitals are crippling the ABC programme in Kerala. The state government has now asked local bodies to recruit enough people to carry out ABC programme effectively.

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