V. Geetanath

Apparently, the MCH authorities have not been following the steps suggested to check the dog menace

HYDERABAD: Anyone would expect MCH to start taking stock of its ongoing stray dogs' control programme, especially after the recent killing of two children by the canines just a few weeks ago in Bangalore.

Though it claims to be doing so, the killing of six-month-old Ritikesh by a group of stray dogs on Wednesday has jolted the authorities. Apparently, they have not been following the steps suggested to check the dog menace.

If selective killings along with sterilisations through animal birth control, anti-rabies vaccination, licensing, proper garbage removal and the likes are considered effective means to control stray dogs, the corporation makes claims of following all these.

But, there are some glaring inconsistencies. For instance, within its limits it had caught 21,350 dogs but the sterilisations were done for an abysmal 1,166 dogs only between January and December 2006.

Sterilisation

Six years after it had cancelled the animal birth control programme contract with Blue Cross with tall claims of doing the sterilisations and vaccinations by itself with extra facilities at Chudibazar, the MCH has not been keeping pace with the canines' growth.

Chief Veterinary Officer P. Venkateshwar Reddy feels his wing gets caught between animal rights activists on one side and those demanding removal of stray dogs on the other.

In certain areas, especially slums, stray dogs are reared by the locals who prevent dog squads from catching them, he claims.

Though there is little regulation on licensing and breeding as it is supposed to be, Dr. Reddy also blames neighbouring municipalities and Cantonment Board for transporting their menace as canines from these areas replace virgin territories!

Mercifully, the MCH has required infrastructure in place with five vehicles for five dog squads and five more vehicles to join soon.

Dog-catching personnel too have been doubled to 60 very recently.

It is also planning to conduct awareness programmes in slums and different areas to educate people about anti-rabies vaccine, to identify stray dogs for sterilisations, segregating those dogs carrying diseases and distribute pamphlets about licensing as also adoption methods.