According to many animal activists, sterlisation of the stray dogs will help curb attacks, but BBMP’s handling of the Animal Birth Control programme could be a problem.

Is BBMPs laxity leading to an increase in stray dog attacks in BengaluruFile Photo
news Policy Monday, September 03, 2018 - 17:43

On Wednesday, 11-year-old Praveen was chased and mauled by stray dogs in Bengaluru’s Vibhutipura. Four days later, on September 1, a three-year-old girl was mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs in Chikkalasandra. The girl was waiting for her father to take her to the temple on her birthday when the incident occurred. 

Two consecutive incidents of children dying after being bitten by stray dogs within a span of four days have brought the focus on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s laxity in handling the issue of the growing population of stray dogs. 

According to BBMP figures, 1.91 lakh cases of dog bites have been reported in Bengaluru between January 2008 and August 2018. 

Animal Birth Control not up to the mark 

Several animal rights activists point out that the BBMP’s slipshod handling of the Animal Birth Control programme has resulted in the continuing dog-human conflict.  

“The issue is not a new one. In 2007, a similar incident had happened and the BBMP was found guilty of laxity in handling the issue. Now, over 11 years later, the problem of faulty animal birth control programme still exists,” says Priya Chetty Rajgopal, who is part of the movement Citizens for Animal Birth Control. 

“Neutering makes males less aggressive, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Altered animals are less likely to contract deadly, contagious diseases, such as feline AIDS and feline leukaemia, that are spread through bodily fluids,” a notice by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) states. 

Animal rights activists say that the laxity in conducting sterilisations and the lack of stray dog census have led to a faulty mechanism of animal birth control. 

The last time a dog census was conducted was in 2012. The number of stray dogs in Bengaluru was pegged at 1.8 lakh. No stray dog census has been done ever since. However, according to the BBMP’s Joint Director of Animal Husbandry, Dr Anand, the Palike carries out 30,000-odd sterilisations every year. 

When asked whether the population of stray dogs has decreased, Dr Anand says that it has gone down by 30%. However, he says that the BBMP officials came up with this figure without carrying out a stray dog census. 

“Whenever stray dogs have been mauled, the BBMP has always ended up euthanising so many dogs in the city and claimed that they all had rabies. Even now, discussions on whether the BBMP should euthanise stray dogs are being held,” a senior BBMP official said. 

Not a new issue 

In January 2007, two children were mauled to death by a pack of dogs in Bengaluru. The then Home Minister of the state, BJP’s R Ashoka, had ordered mass sterilizations and mass euthanasia of dogs. Over 2,000 dogs were electrocuted and killed this year as a part of what the BBMP believed was a “drive to curb stray dog menace”. 

The BBMP, which had come under the fire of various animal rights organization, had in March 2007 formed a committee headed by Dr Sudarsha of Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) to conduct a probe into the BBMP’s plan to tackle the growing population of stray dogs. 

The committee, which submitted the report in May that year, had said that the BBMP had failed to conduct a stray dog census and, coupled with bad animal birth control programme, had led to the increased population of stray dogs. 

“The lack of sterilizations has led to the aggressive behaviour of dogs. The results revealed that the ABC programme was implemented without a proper plan, strategy, monitoring and supervision, particularly, at the field level. As there was no proper count/estimate of the stray dog population before and during the implementation of the programme, its impact is immeasurable,” the report states. 

Faulty garbage disposal and illegal animal slaughter 

While stressing on how dog bite cases have reduced over the years, Dr Sriram, the BBMP officer-in-charge of animal birth control in Mahadevapura zone, blames the BBMP’s faulty garbage disposal programme. 

“Stray dogs are generally fed by the people who live in the area but when there is no one to feed the dogs, they gather in areas where garbage is dumped. If this reduces, then dogs won’t gather in one area in such huge packs. Dogs get territorial about food, especially when they are in survival mode. When people from ABC centres go to catch dogs for sterilisation, not all the dogs can be caught, some run away and so it is difficult to keep track,” Dr Sriram says. 

According to Harini Raghavan, an animal rights activist in the city, the waste generated from illegal slaughterhouses is one of the biggest reasons for dogs to get ferocious and territorial. 

“The animal waste is dumped along with the garbage collected by BBMP. This is illegal according to the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2000. When dogs smell animal waste dumped along with the garbage, they tend to concentrate in those pockets. When someone enters their territory, they get aggressive. This can be stopped by curbing illegal waste dumping. Besides, if the ABC programme is carried out properly, then most of these problems can be stopped,” she added. 

According to BBMP figures, Bengaluru has only three authorised slaughterhouses and 2,649 licensed meat shops. According to the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, only slaughterhouses are authorised to butcher animals and meat shops must only sell meat. 

A BBMP official, on condition of anonymity, says that in reality, hundreds of meat shops end up butchering the animals and dispose the waste in the BBMP auto tippers along with residential waste. 

 “A few months ago, BBMP had seized meat from over 200 meat shops for illegally slaughtering the animals. This practice leads to concentration of stray dogs in the area where the animal waste is disposed. This must be stopped,” the official added. 

Further course of action 

Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj has assured the residents that a stray dog census would be conducted with a few months and that the BBMP would submit a zone-wise comprehensive plan to tackle the issue of dog bites. 

BBMP Joint Director for Animal Husbandry, Dr Anand, says that the BBMP is yet to come up with the plan. “We are working on it,” he says. 

“What we need is a productive State Animal Welfare Board to curb BBMP’s laxity. Currently, the SAWB concentrates only on cow slaughter and not sterilisation of stray dogs. We need officials who are compassionate and competent to handle issues related to animals,” a senior BBMP official said. 

 

 

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