An unusual exercise will get under way at the Nettukaltheri Open Jail on Tuesday. The stray dogs who have made the 274 acres of the jail premises their home have significantly risen in numbers over the past few months. While no untoward incident has been reported, their growing presence has prompted the authorities here to approach the non-governmental organisation, People for Animals (PFA), to carry out sterilisation of all the dogs here.

Those associated with PFA say this is the first time that a government department has sought help and even made arrangements to carry out the sterilisation programme. Instead of capturing the dogs and bringing them back to the centre for treatment, one room at the open jail has been sanitised and turned into an operation theatre of sorts for the surgical staff of PFA to carry out the procedure.

The plan is to treat 10 dogs a day on a weekly basis, beginning Tuesday, said N. Solairajan of PFA, who formerly served as Manager of Animal Rescue Kerala, near Kovalam. A team comprising five persons, including one veterinary surgeon and two surgical assistants, will be despatched for the programme. Taking into account the doctor’s and assistants’ charges, cost for medication – including anaesthetics, antibiotics and painkillers, surgical sutures and other expenses, the procedure comes up to around Rs.750 each dog.

The PFA has sent a proposal to the Prisons Department to meet at least Rs.400 of this cost. Deputy Superintendent A.G. Suresh, told The Hindu that he has forwarded a letter to his superiors seeking financial support that would allow PFA to employ a larger team to complete sterilisation of all dogs here.