The stray dog menace is on a hike in Kerala posing a major threat to the lives of the people across the state with frequent attacks on children, pedestrians, elderly and pet animals.
Recently, children aged 1.5 and 5 have been brutally attacked by stray dogs near their home in Anchal, Kollam. The dogs are also found to chase the moving vehicles creating troubles for the passengers as well as the traffic. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called an all-party meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday to address the stray dog menace and to take necessary steps to tackle the issue. In the meeting convened by the CM, steps to cull rabid and aggressive stray dogs that threatened the humans, was taken. The Chief Minister said that there would be no legal hurdles that prevent the government from killing ‘rabid and dangerous’ dogs. The meeting consisting of District Collectors and Ministers recommended implementing Animal Birth Control (ABC) measures that include sterilization of stray dogs and the Anti Rabies Vaccination in all the 14 districts. He said that the sterilization programs launched were not successful which led to an increase in the number of stray dogs in the state. Steps would also be taken to ensure adequate supply of anti-rabies vaccine in the hospitals. Rabies reportedly, have caused the death of 35, 000 people. He said that the birth control facility would be made available in every veterinary hospital and local self-government institutions should make use of the same.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), there are around 30 million stray dogs in the country and over 8 lakh of them are in kerala. The number of people bit by stray dogs in the state last year was 8817 of which 11 died following the bite. The medical expenditures for the government came to around 10 crore. The various schemes and projects announced in the state for curbing the menace have failed to be implemented effectively and this has caused an increase in the number of attacks. END (Early Neutering in Dogs) is one of the few bootless schemes. The project introduced by a veterinary university was to sterilize the stray dogs while they are young. But it wasn’t implemented properly by the concerned department citing the inadequacy of facilities. The projects needn’t just be announced but properly implemented. The local self governing bodies are entrusted with carrying out the sterilization of stray dogs. The Panchayats, Muncipalities and Co-operations pointed out the need of mobile units for implementing the process. A mobile unit having laboratory and vaccination facilities costs at least 25 lakhs where as the cost of sterilizing a dog comes up to Rs. 600. The local self governing bodies have therefore urged the government to provide financial assistance to overcome the barrier of huge expenses for the procedures.
There are stringent laws in the US as well as European countries for raising pet animals. To keep them without the permission of the government is a punishable offense. The vaccination certificate should be submitted along with the application in order to get the license. The authorities would ensure that there are adequate facilities for the safe and hygienic stay of the pet animals. The owner should sign and submit a paper guaranteeing that he will be taking care of the pet with utmost care. There are hardly any stray dogs wandering across the streets due to these rigorous laws. One of the ways to curb the issue is to form tough rules for keeping pet animals. Improper waste management mechanism is one of the reasons for an increase in the stray dog menace. People especially Keralites have the habit of dumping leftover food along the roadsides and paths that attract the stray dogs. The steps adopted have to be implemented immediately and preventive vaccinations and sterilizations should be carried out with the support of Panchayats and Municipalities. The necessary facilities would be provided in all veterinary hospitals and the government would bear the expenses. Equal co-operation from the public is also needed.