‘Rise in the stray dog population in the last two years’

Bengaluru: Seventeen years ago, the civic body launched its Animal Birth Control and Anti-Rabies Vaccination programme in the face of a rising stray dog population, an increase in instances of dog bites and rabies. In the early years, it achieved success as a humane and effective way to control the dog population. But over the past two years, the programme has seen multiple challenges and is almost languishing.

This has resulted in a rise in the stray dog population, say animal welfare organisations that have been contracted by the civic body to implement the programme.

“Till 2014, the programme was under control, but it has not been monitored since then. The result has been an increase in the population of stray dogs. We have been receiving complaints of dog bites and random killing of rabid dogs,” said Vinay Moray of Sarvodaya Sevabhavi Samstha, which runs an Animal Birth Control (ABC) centre in Bengaluru East zone. If unchecked, Moray predicted, there could be an increase of dogs with rabies.

Though the BBMP has not conducted a stray dog census since 2007, the 19th Livestock Census 2012 puts the figure of stray dogs at 1.03 lakh in Bengaluru City and 34,125 in Bengaluru Rural. However, multiple NGOs such as CUPA and Sarvodaya Sevabhavi Samstha estimate that the number could be as high as 3.5 lakh (both urban and rural). And much of the population explosion took place in the last two years, they say.

Several ABC centres in the city have either shut down or scaled down operations citing lack of payment from the civic body. Of the eight zones, only two have operational ABC programmes. A third one at Yelahanka is likely to be opened soon. But most neighbourhoods don't have ABC centres.

Sarvodaya, for instance, received the payment for 2014 in November 2016. It conducts 30 sterilisations per day. “The amount was close to ₹40 lakh,” says Mr. Moray.

Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) stopped the programme briefly from October 2016 to December 2016. “We were not paid for a year. We resumed only after the outstanding amount was paid. While the BBMP pays for every surgery, we have to bear the overhead charges that comprises fuel, vehicle lease and salary of employees. When payments are not made on time, we struggle to run the show. Whenever an NGO stops sterilisation, the risk of an increase in the number of dogs is high,” said Shilpa Mahbubani, CUPA, which conducts up to 20 surgeries a day in the Bomanahalli zone.

Lack of space for ABC centres

Another issue is lack of space to start ABC centres. Though NGOs, including Samarpan Foundation, had applied to run an ABC centre at Mahadevpura, the BBMP did not provide any space. Sarvodaya, which runs the ABC programme from the Government Veterinary Hospital on Queens Road, had to convert four staff rooms into recovery rooms to accommodate more kennels.

Dr. N. Anand, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, BBMP, said that the civic body is in the process of setting up ABC centres and kennels in Yelahanka, Dasarahalli, Chamrajpet and Summanahalli. “We have increased payments of NGOs per sterilisation from ₹600 (male) and ₹650 (female) to ₹1,000,” he said.

Dr. Anand blamed the delay in payments to decentralisation of the process. “A circular has been issued to zones and assistant commissioner to attend to payment issues on priority basis.”

‘Our garbage sustains stray dogs’

While the ABC programme is quite effective in controlling the dog population, activists say it cannot be a total success without regular clearance of garbage. “At Dollar’s Colony, you will not find stray dogs. The reason is that there is no garbage on the road,” says Mr. Moray.

Animal Rights Fund had to deal with its share of problems while trying to implement the ABC programme. “Not just the civic body, event the public is to blame. We had to deal with a lot of garbage issues in R.R. Nagar and Peenya. We tried sensitising residents about the problems. We told them that if garbage is thrown on the roads, it attracts stray dogs. But, hardly a few listened,” says Dilip Bafna, trustee, Animal Rights Fund.

Also, the migration of dogs from villages around the city is adding to the problem. Dogs are attracted not only to leftovers but also uncollected garbage. “We need to get rid of the black spots to ensure the success of the ABC programme,” say activists.

Stray Dogs

Population as per 2012 livestock census: 1.37 lakh

Population as per animal welfare groups: 3.5 lakh

Number of sterilisations in 2015-16: 35,185

Number of anti-rabies vaccinations in 2015-16: 21,714

People Speak

“By and large, the ABC programme in the city has been the most successful. This does not mean that it has been exceptional in medical practice but in its extent, coverage and continuity, it has been better than in any other city. However, it requires continuity and proper management,” says Rakesh Shukla, founder, The Voice of Stray Dogs (VOSD).

“A lot of garbage is dumped in the forest near Gunjur Palya in Varthur ward. This has been attracting a large number of stray dogs. Despite complaints, no action has been taken by authorities,” says Salini Sasidharan, resident, Varthur.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 7:51:48 PM |

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