Amid the spiralling number of stray dog attacks, Minister for Local Self Governments M.B. Rajesh on Monday announced an action plan to address the issue, following a high-level meeting with officials of the Local Self-Government, Health, and Animal Husbandry departments.
The multi-pronged plan involves a massive vaccination drive for stray dogs, setting up of dog shelters in all panchayats and blocks, and clearing up of waste dumps from public spaces.
The volunteer force, which was formed in the aftermath of floods and the COVID-19 outbreak, will be reactivated for the vaccination drive, Mr. Rajesh told a press conference after the meeting.
“The intensive vaccination drive, which will begin on September 20, is expected to be completed within one month. The State at present has a stock of six lakh doses of vaccines. More doses will be procured. Local bodies will be given permission to take on rent vehicles to carry out the vaccination drive,” he said.
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“We have to approach this at two levels. Right now, we are focussing on emergency measures to address the fear among the public, arising due to the deaths from dog bites. The massive vaccination drive is aimed at addressing this fear. The drive will start off with our trained dog catchers, but their numbers are not sufficient. Those who are willing from among our volunteer force and people made available by Kudumbashree will be trained for this purpose with the help of the veterinary university,” the Minister said.
The State government would also approach the Supreme Court against a High Court order which barred Kudumbashree from being part of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme. Mr. Rajesh said the High Court order had been a major setback for the State's effort to control the number of stray dogs. The government would also appeal the apex court for permission to cull rabies-affected and violent stray dogs.
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Mr. Rajesh said the government would also explore the possibilities of administering oral vaccination through the food being provided to stray dogs, as it was impractical to catch and vaccinate all stray dogs. Experts from the field pointed to successful oral vaccination drives conducted in Goa and Chandigarh.
The vaccination drive for pet dogs would also progress simultaneously, with an aim to complete vaccination before October 30. Special camps would be organised, if needed. Application for pet dog licence would be made available in the citizen portal.