There is only one centre for sterilisation and administering rabies vaccine in the whole of Madurai

The Madurai Corporation has embarked on a drive to catch stray dogs in the city for sterilisation.

While people are living with fear of dog bite, especially in suburbs, it may take a much longer time for the dog menace to come to an end as the sterilisation waiting list is much higher. Reasons: as per the latest census, there are more than 18,500 street dogs in Madurai which are yet to undergo Animal Birth Control procedure (sterilisation). But, there is only one vehicle to catch all these stray dogs in the 100 wards of the city.

While the officials are keen to do sterilisation of all stray dogs, the availability of only one birth control centre at Sellur poses another problem. “There is a huge backlog and the stray dog population is rising fast in the wake of new places having been annexed to the Corporation,” a senior corporation official told The Hindu on Saturday.

The drive for stray dog sterilisation is meant to control its population and also prevent rabies as the dogs will be vaccinated against rabies. The Animal Birth Control programme is being implemented on a routine basis and there are trained dog catchers with the corporation.

But, officials said that the Corporation had to go slow because of the norms they had to follow and strict vigil by animal rights groups and the Blue Cross.

Corporation Commissioner R. Nanthagopal admitted that the actual population of stray dogs in the city and suburbs could be even more than 18,500 and they could not be sterilised fast owing to some limitations. “In a month, we do sterilisation procedure and rabies vaccination for around 450 dogs. We will take steps to increase the number of operations by getting the support of various groups concerned. The Corporation will also deploy more vehicles to catch street dogs and try to set up one more animal birth control centre in the city,” the Commissioner said.

Another official said that the civic body had been taking all precautions for the safety of dogs and no harm was done to them. The dogs were brought to the Sellur centre for sterilisation, kept there for five to seven days under veterinarians’ care after they are administered rabies vaccine and let off in the place from where they were caught.

An official in the Madurai Corporation’s health wing said that complaints of stray dog menace were being received from various places in and around the city. The menace was more pronounced at night.

“In a year, we are able to do 6,000 sterilisations, but the tar0get is much more. If we have to prevent people of Madurai from falling prey to rabies, more dog catching vehicles and sterilisation centres are needed urgently,” the official said.

The cost incurred for Animal Birth Control programme is being shared by the Animal Welfare Board and the Madurai Corporation.

80 patients a day

Statistics of dog bite cases coming to the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here from various places reveal the seriousness of the menace. On an average, 80 patients are administered anti-rabies vaccine in the GRH per day.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nanthagopal, in a press release issued on Saturday, informed that 692 stray dogs had been sterilised and vaccinated against rabies in the last two months.

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