When those who are responsible pretend to be deep in slumber, others will have to do the unusual to wake them up!
I, with some likeminded people, had recently formed a society named ‘Stray Dog Free Movement’ with the objectives of providing financial and legal aid to stray dog victims as well as to associate with non-profit organizations to take measures to remove stray dogs from streets and public places in Kerala. But whenever attempts were made to capture and shelter dangerous stray dogs that attacked people and domestic animals, those efforts were countered by those claiming to be animal lovers, through the direct intervention of Animal Welfare Board of India and highhandedness by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, with the support of the Police Department.
Isn’t it unfortunate that some vested interests are trying to attribute more value to dangerous stray dogs than that of human beings as well as other animals? I’m not a person who can tolerate such outright hypocrisy. As a ‘human lover’ I had to act. There is no better method to stage one’s protest other than the one showed by Gandhiji himself – hunger strike. I observed a 24-hour hunger strike in the last week of October at Marine Drive, Kochi, to expose the conspiracy of pseudo animal lovers and to invite the attention of lethargic authorities to take prompt action. Stray dog menace is an issue that is affecting large masses of common people. I was overwhelmed to see the massive support from people across Kerala. I will continue efforts to create awareness building in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram by way of 24-hour hunger strike.
Close on heels came the High Court verdict directing all the local bodies to set up in two weeks a monitoring committee to deal with the menace. While I am happy that our efforts are showing positive results, after one and half years of legal battle by me, late Adv. Basil Attipetty and others, I am only 49% satisfied with the actual practical provisions of it. The verdict clearly says that the local bodies can take a decision to cull stray dogs only in accordance with the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules 2001 and the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, which in simple words mean that if a dog bites you, it can be touched only after making a formal complaint and an examination by a vet to prove that it is dangerous or sick. What an ordeal!
The present HC direction is just a recapitulation of the 2001 ABC rules (not an Act) which contemplates the setting up of a committee to plan and manage dog control programmes. Fourteen long years have passed. What has the ABC programme achieved so far? Has the stray dog population reduced? No. The present scenario proves that it has been a total failure. Stray dogs have grown multiple folds and the situation has gone out of control. As per the ABC rules dogs are caught, castrated and vaccinated, then left back to the place from where they were caught. Can anyone guarantee that a castrated dog doesn’t bite again? Will anyone refrain from taking anti-rabies injection even if the stray dog is vaccinated? No. So, this, obviously, is not a practical solution.
The only ones who are benefitting from the ill-executed ABC programme are the rabies vaccine companies. Rabies death is the most horrific, painful death. If you haven’t seen the suffering a rabid patient undergoes, please see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxYpWlEgkSA. The govt should investigate what was the sales turnover of vaccine companies 14 years ago and what is the status now. I bet, it has exponentially increased. It’s something that is unbecoming of a developing nation like India. Small pox and polio have been almost totally eradicated from the country. Anti-vaccine for both these viruses is no more relevant. Such should be the target for anti-rabies vaccine too. Don’t let stray dogs roam the streets and take precious lives just to make hay for rabies vaccine companies. Whoever is promoting such a lobby should be exposed and punished.
The other choice to get rid of stray menace is to shelter them. India has the highest stray dog population. In a developing country like India, where millions of people are homeless and millions of children go hungry, isn’t it injustice and a crime to build shelters for stray dogs and provide them timely food? We don’t see stray dogs in any of the developed foreign countries. USA is seen as the epitome of animal welfare in India. A report by the American Humane Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to the welfare of animals and children, states that of the 4.3 million animals that were handled by 1000 shelters in 1997, roughly 64 percentage of them, approximately 2.7 million, were euthanized due to overcrowding (http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/stop-animal-abuse/fact-sheets/animal-shelter-euthanasia.html). While it might sound cruel, grave situations call for stringent actions. In our country, too, the present situation is of overcrowding of stray dogs in our streets. Pet animals should be loved and taken care of and should be kept at home. Those animals which are public nuisance should be removed from streets and if need be eliminated.
The supporters of Stray Dog Free Movement believe that continued and united struggle to create awareness only can free God’s Own Country’s streets and public places from stray dog menace.
So shall it be!