Vets want a say in rabies-control steps of Kerala govt.

They say policies are being formulated without involving animal experts

September 09, 2022 08:38 pm | Updated 08:38 pm IST - PALAKKAD

Street dogs on a footpath in Kochi.

Street dogs on a footpath in Kochi. | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Veterinarians in the State are unhappy about the way the government is tackling the stray dog menace. They are of the opinion that the State’s rabies control programme is not chalked out scientifically by involving animal experts.

Although the State has a veterinary university and colleges, very few experts with those institutions are roped in for addressing the stray dog issue. Vets are of the opinion that the government is handling the matter as a stop-gap.

The shortcomings

Individualistic attitude of government departments, lack of multi-disciplinary approach, and lack of support for public education have been pointed out as the shortcomings of the current rabies control programme.

“Rabies control is a multi-sector endeavor and is way beyond the capacity and competence of local bodies,” said veteran animal expert V. Ramkumar, former national secretary of the Indian Veterinary Association.

According to Dr. Ramkumar, even the stray dog control part is multidisciplinary as it is caused by more than one reason. He said rabies control would be inseparable from professional tasks such as disease ecology, movement of wild, feral and stray animals.

“Veterinarians have an obligation to mitigate not only carrier-borne disease, but also man-animal conflicts,” he said.

Limited expertise

Noted veterinarian N. Sudhodhanan said that the government was formulating rabies control and stray dog control policies without involving experts. “Often bureaucrats decide what to do. Their expertise and knowledge in animal behaviour may be poor,” said Dr. Sudhodhanan.

“Even the Supreme Court has asked for the opinion of the Animal Welfare Board, which is not a forum of experts,” said Dr. Sudhodhanan. He said the government should make use of the expertise available on veterinary campuses in the State.

Early neutering

M.K. Narayanan, Dean of the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pookode, is an advocate of early neutering of dogs as a means to control the stray dog population. According to Dr. Narayanan, animal welfare is human welfare as well. “Unlike other emergencies or disasters, the rabies or stray dog issues should be addressed with a sustainable solution,” he said. Dr. Narayanan too said that a multidisciplinary approach is needed to address the issue.

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