ALAPPUZHA: While residents in the district have been demanding an immediate solution to the growing stray dog menace, the local authorities say they are helpless in the matter. According to them, the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme cannot be executed due to lack of infrastructure and manpower.
As per the direction of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the execution of the ABC programme is the responsibility of the local bodies and the State Animal Husbandry Department. However, the authorities in both these departments claim that the infrastructure and manpower for executing the programme according to AWBI guidelines are inadequate.
As per the data available with the preventive clinic in Alappuzha Medical College Hospital, 1,994 people were bitten by dogs this year. Last year, nearly 1,747 people were affected. Dr Carol Pinheiro, doctor of community medicine at the MCH preventive clinic, said, "Six people died in the district due to rabies in 2010 and 2011." As per the data, people have also been victims of attack by cats - there were 1082 cases last year, and 822 cases so far this year. Alappuzha municipal chairperson Mercy Diana Masido said they were concerned about the increase in the number of stray dog attack cases. "As per AWBI, we have to set up kennels, operation theatres and ambulances for sterilization of stray dogs. And sterilized dogs should be released in the area from where they are captured. These guidelines are not practical. So we are not getting involved with the programme," she said.
The Kerala State Animal Husbandry Department (KSAHD) director Dr Vijayakumar R said that veterinary hospitals in Alappuzha were not equipped to carry out the ABC programme. "Our hospitals function from morning to evening. As per the programme, doctors should observe the sterilized dogs for two days and provide them postoperative care. It is not practical. There is also a shortage of dog catchers and trained doctors here," he said. "But such problems do not exist in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation or Thodupuzha Municipality where the programme is on," he added.
Alappuzha district panchayat president U Pratibha Hari said though they were ready to allot funds for the programme, they had not received any project from local bodies in this regard. "There are provisions in the Panchayati Raj Act for imposing fine on dog owners if their dogs attack people. But local bodies are ignoring this provision," she said.
Heritage Animal Task Force secretary VK Venkitachalam alleged that though the Animal Husbandry Department had adequate funds for executing the ABC programme, they had been diverting the funds for other purposes. "The department is not giving any importance to the issue of stray dogs. The state government and the AWBI should take immediate steps for effective execution of the programme," he said.
Though people in the district are demanding immediate solution for the increasing dog menace, the local bodies in the district are not ready to execute Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme for sterilization of stray dogs.
As per the direction of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the execution of the ABC programme is the responsibility of the local bodies concerned and the State Animal Husbandry Department. However according to the officials of the local bodies and the Animal Husbandry Department, they do not have infrastructure and manpower for executing the ABC programme in tune with the guidelines of the AWBI.