Thursday, 22 December 2011

Maharashtra to let dogs out at new stadium!

In Pune Avinash Rajput For the first time in the country, man’s best friend will ensure that there’s no mischief at a cricket stadium. The Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium at Gahunje in Pune, where the inaugural Maharashtra-HP Ranji fixture began on Wednesday, will be the first to have a special 24-dog squad manning the space between the outfield and the spectators’ galleries instead of the imposing iron grills that block the view.

But officials are quick to inform that the dogs have been trained to restrain mischief mongers and not to cause grievous hurt or unleash panic. “A set of four dogs each will be positioned at six different points on match day. The dogs will be used as deterrents and not to terrorise the audience. This step is totally pro-audience and will serve the purpose of helping people enjoy the match without visual hindrances — a practice being followed in many other countries,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) treasurer and Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Ajay Shirke said.

“We have taken this step so that spectators can enjoy the match without any visual obstacle. The dogs will be here for the safety of the audience as well as the players,” Shirke added.

The stadium will have four-feet-high barriers guarding as well as dividing the boundary line and the spectators’ gallery. MCA will have 24 trained dogs (Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds) that will keep a close watch on the indiciplined cricket fans and also look after the security of the stadium throughout the year.

A special dog unit of MCA has been formed. This unit is busy tracking breeds from champion bloodlines from all over India. Retired personnel from the state’s Police Dog Unit will help the MCA team to locate, select and train the dogs for these specialised skills and techniques.

The stadium already has a dedicated space to house these dogs and the MCA plans to hire specialised dog-handlers and veterinarians. Shirke, who is also a dog-lover, added, “We are building a beautiful, air-conditioned kennel for these dogs along with generator back-up. They would be highly respected members of the stadium and hence we have decided to make customised collars with embroidered MCA logo and name or caricatures.” MCA will train three-month-old puppies which would soon be shifted to the stadium after the completion of the kennel.

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