Even as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) continues to dole out huge sums for the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, it has conceded in the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the Supreme Court that crores of rupees of public money “continues to be wasted on a wholly unsuccessful scheme….” The SLP was filed by the BBMP around two months ago.

From November 2000 to the present, the civic authority has spent a whopping Rs. 14 crore to sterilise and administer anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) to 7,13,598 dogs in its jurisdiction.

Dog census

According to the June-July 2007 dog census, the city had 3.27 lakh dogs, including 1.83 lakh strays and 1.43 lakh pets. No fresh dog census has been conducted thereafter.

Though each year the number of packages and allocations increase, the number of dog bites also seems to be increasing. In its petition, the BBMP has admitted that in 2008-09, 12,796 dog bites cases were recorded. The number saw a sharp rise to 21,586 in 2009-10 and a further increase to 24,120 in 2010-11. This year (from May 2011 to now), as many as 7,400 dog bite cases have been reported. Parvez Ahmad Piran, BBMP's Joint Director (Animal Husbandry), said around 45 per cent of the reported dog bites could be attributed to pets.

The SLP admits that the ABC is neither scientific nor holistic as it covers just a fraction of the stray dog population.

“To be scientific, it must cover 70 per cent of the strays in a six-month period, before the next breeding cycle begins. Given the large number of strays that have populated our public areas, the target is impossible to achieve. The implementing agencies are able to deal with just 15 to 20 per cent of the stray population in a whole year….”

Seeking to strike down the ABC Rules 2001, the BBMP in the petition has noted that the rules “seek to protect animals, with complete disregard to what is demanded for safety of human beings”.

The former councillor M. Pari agreed, and said that the increase in the number of bites and also in the stray dog population had shown up the ABC programme to be a failure. He had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta in this regard on June 26, 2011.

Loopholes

“There are several loopholes in the 20 packages of the programme. The BBMP has failed to control the stray dog population and implement the recommendations prescribed in the programme's performance audit by the Department of Community Medicine, Kempe Gowda Institute of Medical Sciences, in May 2007,” he alleged.

Dr. Piran said while the BBMP had to be considerate to animals, it should not be at the cost of humans. He blamed the recent attack by a rabid dog — in which four of the eight victims were children — on parents not keeping an eye on their wards, not teaching them to keep a safe distance from strays and not teaching them how to behave with them.

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