Dog licensing rate in Chennai district continues to be at an abysmal low

Only 1,300 pet owners go in for a license every year; the document has to be renewed annually. Licenses are linked to coverage of anti-rabies vaccination

June 06, 2022 01:44 pm | Updated 01:44 pm IST

Photo used for representational purpose

Photo used for representational purpose

In Chennai district, a dog licence can be had for a farthing — just fifty rupees — and in a cruel twist of irony, it is being accorded just the value of a farthing.

Pet owners either do not realise that their pet dog needs a licence, or, if they do, they pooh-pooh the notion, considering their four-legged family member as above it as andromeda is above planet earth.

“Every year, only around 1,300 pet owners go in for dog licensing, and the number is low, due to lack of awareness,” says Dr. Kamal Hussain, veterinary officer, Greater Chennai Corporation.

Before 1996, when animal birth control (ABC) mechanism was yet to click into place, and stray dogs were eliminated through electrocution, a license for a pet dog was invariably a license to life.

It was common for a pet dog that had stayed on to the roads to be left alone, if it carried a licence around its neck.

The need for a dog licence now might not be as dramatic as that, but it is a need that has hardly diminished.

If anything, it has only increased in significance. With the human population in the metro moving at a gallop, pet dog population has also increased, and it is necessary to keep a close tab on the health of these dogs.

“Licensing helps us know the population of pet dogs in Chennai, control rabies among them and other zoonotic diseases. Parasitic diseases can be communicated from animal to human beings,” explains Dr. Kamal.

He elaborates that the Corporation has no trouble obtaining this data about street dogs, as their numbers are tracked through the ABC programme. These dogs are also administered the annual anti-rabies shot, he notes.

Facts about the protection of pet dogs can be counter-intuitive. On one end of the spectrum are diligent and knowledgeable pet owners who bring their pet dogs up to date on the vaccinations.

On the other end are those that labour under the illusion that a pet dog that is being raised at home is automatically insulated against rabies.

Recently, when this writer landed unannounced at the Meenambakkam veterinary clinic, Dr. K Akalya was seen giving a family owning a spitz a piece of her mind and also sound advice about responsible pet dog ownership.

The dog was six years old, and has never had an anti-rabies shot in its life.

Awareness about dog licensing is even more abysmal, notes Dr. Akalya. She says, “Whenever people bring their pets for regular treatment, we get them to have the licensing done, impressing on its significance: About how it has the anti-rabies shot covered, and helps them get into the annual routine of having their pet administered the shot, and securing their pet’s and their own continues safety.” The advantage goes way beyond protection from rabies.

Dr. Akalya illustrates: “Sometime ago, I learnt from a dog owner that he could successfully defend his right to keep a pet in his home, as he could produce details of the annual dog licenses and the anti-rabies shots, thereby buttressing his case that the dog was being kept safe for everyone.”

Where to get your pet the annual license and anti-rabies shot

Greater Chennai Corporation runs four veterinary pet clinics where pet dog licences are issued: Nungambakkam Veterinary Clinic on School Road; Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar Veterinary Clinic on Pallavan Salai; Kannammapet Veterinary Clinic on Muthurangan Salai and Meenambakkam Kanamapettai, Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar and Meenamakkam.

“Pet owners will have to bring their dogs for the veterinarian to carry out an examination. During the licensing, anti-rabies vaccination is administered and deworming carried out, for free. If the pet is healthy, the licence is issued. Anti-rabies vaccination has to be administered every year, and if the dog is already vaccinated, and the next shot is almost due, it is administered,” says Kamal Hussain, veterinary officer, Greater Chennai Corporation.

The pet license costs ₹50. However, all treatments for dog that are available at these clinics are offered for free.

‘Online dog licensing to come soon’

Last year, Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) announced that it would start issuing dog licenses online. It was evidentluy a move to encourage more dog owners to go in for licensing and to bring pet dogs into the crucial data about anti-rabies coverage. The exercise was stillborn, having been overtaken by the Coronavirus, particularly its Second Wave.

Dr. Kamal Hussain, veterinary officer, GCC notes that the process is back on track, and the service would see the light soon. Once the online service goes on steam, pet owners can have the annual dog license, offering documents that show their dog to be up-to-date on vaccinations, particularly the anti-rabies vaccine, and in good health.

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