With stray dogs and their whelps seen everywhere, what is the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) doing to fix the problem?

Despite the crores of rupees being spent, dog menace continues unabated in the city. Stray dogs are a menace to people on the road, especially children, as well as two-wheeler riders, as the highly territorial animals often chase them. So much so pedestrians and riders dread entering localities notorious for their aggressive stray dogs.

With stray dogs and their whelps seen everywhere, what is the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) doing to fix the problem?

2 lakh dogs

BBMP officials concede that the city’s stray dog number is rising. According to the last cattle census (in 2007), the number of dogs stood at 1.83 lakh. It is now risen to 2 lakh, according to estimates. This despite BBMP’s Animal Birth Control programme that involves neutering the dogs.

Officials claimed that despite the increased dog population, the number of bites reported had come down. Between 2010 and 2011, 24,120 bites were reported in the city, of which approximately half were stray dog bites. Between 2011 and 2012, it was 19,066.

7,000 a month

It was in 2000 that the civic authority launched the birth control programme, touting it as a long-term solution to the dog menace. The programme calls for the systematic neutering of strays, after dividing the city into 20 packages. Each package covers approximately 10 wards and BBMP enlisted the help of seven non-governmental organisations for the programme. Records say that the NGOs neuter around 7,000 stray dogs a month.

So, why is the dog population still on the rise? BBMP’s Joint Director (Animal Husbandry) Parviz Ahmed Piran told The Hindu that the civic agency was still “fighting an uphill battle against nature”. Dogs have two annual breeding cycles, with pregnancy lasting 60-62 days, and they give birth to six to eight puppies per cycle.

Of the litter, half of them are usually female. Within 10 to 12 months, the puppies reach maturity and start reproducing on their own. The rate of reproduction is rapid and the birth control programme can only slowly take effect, he maintained.

He conceded that the manpower shortage had affected the programme. “There simply is not enough manpower to capture the dogs. Also, neutering requires proper training. Hence, the process of controlling dog menace is slow,” he said.

Dr. Piran said that the BBMP could try to decrease the dogs’ access to food (garbage in the case of stray dogs), which would go towards controlling reproduction.

“The programme will prove effective in the long run. Since it began, the rate of increase in the dog population has declined. We need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to tackle the problem,” he said.