KERALA

Shot in the arm for stray dog sterilisation project

Residents' associations tone down protest

T. Nandakumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The sterilisation programme for stray dogs launched by the City Corporation last week has received a positive response from the city residents, with the Federation of Residents Associations, Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT), deciding to tone down its opposition to the project.

Address concerns

The executive committee of FRAT, which met here on Saturday, decided to drop its prolonged resistance and cooperate with the project if the Corporation was willing to address the public concerns.

FRAT general secretary Pattom Sasidharan Nair said the 15 residents associations representing the Pettah ward had agreed to a conditional support for the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme.

Demands

The associations are demanding proper disposal of surgical wastes and a system to ensure that the sterilised dogs are released in the same area from which they were captured. Mr. Nair said FRAT would discuss the demands with the Mayor and senior Corporation officials.

"We are aware of the constraints faced by the Corporation in tackling the stray dog menace. On the one hand, there is immense pressure to keep the stray dog population under control, while on the other, the Central law prohibits killing of the animals. Sterilising the dogs may be the only option before the Corporation. There is no point in blindly opposing the project," he said.

Public protest

The Corporation had drawn up the sterilisation project two years back after an uproar over the increasing incidence of dog bites. But the project had to be put on hold after a public protest erupted over the location of the core facility at the Pettah Veterinary Hospital.

Local residents feared that the project would aggravate the stray dog menace in their locality and turn the hospital into a breeding centre for animal viruses.

Following the success of the experimental surgery on eight dogs at the District Veterinary Centre last week, the Corporation is preparing to equip its hospitals at Pettah, Kadakampally and Thiruvallam for the project. The senior veterinary surgeon L. Ravikumar said the impact of the programme would be evident in a year's time.

"At the rate of eight animals at each centre, we will be able to sterilise 128 dogs every month. The rate will multiply once we start neutering male dogs," he said.

Meanwhile, the eight dogs that were operated upon last week are recovering at the International Animal Rescue at Kovalam. The sterilised animals have been provided with a blue collar and an ear tattoo for easy identification and to avoid recapture. They will also be administered anti-rabies vaccine and a shot against skin diseases and parasites. After de-worming and a shampoo, they will be released on Wednesday.

Computerised records

The Corporation has also unveiled a plan to maintain computerised records for the sterilised animals. "Each dog will be numbered and an individual case sheet will be prepared. This will enable us to recapture the animal every year to repeat the vaccines," Dr. Ravikumar said.

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