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IIT Madras confirms that 30% of dogs held captive on campus died in one year

“I have told them that the lives of both the deer and the dogs are equally important and dogs should also be taken care of,” the Minister said | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Staff Reporter CHENNAI 17 October 2021 15:57 IST
Updated: 17 October 2021 15:57 IST

On Sunday, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian inspected the dog shelter on the campus; the institution claimed its main reason for confining the dogs was that they posed a threat to the deer

A total of 56 (or 30%) of the 188 stray dogs confined in the dog shelter at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) campus have died in the past one year, the IIT-M administration confirmed to the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister Ma. Subramanian on Sunday.

Mr. Subramanian, who inspected the shelter following complaints of a high number of deaths, quoted the administration as saying that another 29 were given up for adoption, 14 were let out as they were not aggressive and two had escaped. He said that the administration was asked to furnish details on the 29 dogs that were adopted.

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The remaining 87 dogs were kept in two confinements spanning an area of 10,600 square feet area, the Minister said. “The administration said old age and illnesses were the main reasons for the deaths. Most dogs that died were eight to ten years of age,” he said, adding that a postmortem was done on a dog that died recently.

Pointing out that the IIT-M administration’s main reason to keep the dogs in confinement was that they posed a threat to the deer population in the campus, the Minister quoted the administration as saying that 55 of the 92 deer that died in 2018 were due to dog attacks.

“They said that another 38 deer died in 2019 and 28 in 2020. Only this year, the death has come down to just three,” he said. “I have told them that the lives of both the deer and the dogs are equally important and dogs should also be taken care of,” he added.

While stating that the overall functioning of the shelter looked satisfactory with nine people engaged to take care of the dogs, he said that the administration has been asked to keep Greater Chennai Corporation officials in the loop on all developments.

Arun Prasanna of People for Cattle in India (PFCI), who had filed a public interest litigation at the Madras High Court in this regard and who met the Minister during the inspection, said that the number of dogs that have died as per IIT-M’s figures were alarming.

“These stray or feral dogs suffer trauma and stress if kept in confinement. In their response to the Court, IIT-M had said that the dogs were healthy. If that was the case, 30% of them should not have died. These dogs generally live for around 14 years,” he said.

He said that the numbers cited on the dogs given for adoption, dogs that were let go of, and the dogs that escaped sounded suspicious. “They are yet to furnish details on these. As an animal rights activist, I know that finding people to adopt stray dogs is not easy, particularly if they are not puppies,” he said.

Denying IIT-M’s claims that the dogs posed threats to the deer, he said that it was not in the nature of stray dogs to attack or hunt the deer. “We do not have solid evidence or postmortem reports to prove that the dogs were the cause of death,” he claimed. He appealed that the remaining 87 dogs be released immediately for their well being.

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