Days after many stray dogs were beaten to death, hung on a pole and paraded by members of Youth Front (Mani group) in Keralaâ€™s Kottayam district, a group of people from the same district has started an air gun distribution programme to tackle the stray dog issue in the state.
Representatives of Pala-based St Thomas College Old Students Welfare Association on Tuesday inaugurated the programme in Ernakulam by giving an air gun to Janasiksha Sishubhavan chief Jose Maveli, who have been actively involved in killing of stray dogs.
â€śPublic representatives and people who are troubled by stray dogs can avail a 10% subsidy on the air gun. People who have at least one police case against them related to stray dogs can avail a 25% subsidy,â€ť reads a press statement released by the associationâ€™s general secretary James Pambakkal.
Having several cases against him for killing of stray dogs made Jose Maveli eligible for getting the air gun for free.
â€śI have six cases against me for killing stray dogs and this group came to know about me through media reports. They have now come forward to help us in our work, because stray dog issue is now a state-wide problem,â€ť Jose Maveli told The News Minute.
Asked whether the act wouldnâ€™t be illegal, Jose said amid peals of laughter,
â€śHere, killing dogs is punishable and somehow killing humans is not.â€ť
He said that using air guns will not hurt the stray dogs since it is likely to kill them on the spot. However, Sally Kannan, ABC program manager of Humane Society International/India differs.
She says that using a 5.5mm air gun will not kill a dog, but will leave them wounded.
"This air gun is likely to kill puppies, but not dogs. They will instead be left wounded, which will only make them more aggressive because of the pain. This is nowhere close to a solution to the issue, but will be an excuse for them to say that the dogs in Kerala are dangerous and resort to illogical methods to handle it," said Sally, who is also the Honorary Animal Welfare Officer of AWBI.
Sally opines that the air gun distribution programme, that began only days after the Supreme Court asked the Kerala government for an explanation on the parading of dogs in Kottayam, indicates total disregard of the law.
"There is absolute lawlessness in the state. People like Jose Maveli are in fact mocking the judiciary. They claim to be humanitarians, but what they will end up doing is to trigger the increase in stray dog bites. It is never going to come down if people resort to killing them, as friendly dogs will become aggressive on seeing the others being killed," Sally said.
According to a former secretary of Thodupuzha Rifle Association, a license is not required for keeping a 5.5 air gun in possession.
"If people kill stray dogs with the air gun, they can only be booked for cruelty to animals and the sections of the Arms Act will not apply," he said.
James Pambakkal told The Times of India that over a dozen air guns have been distributed so far. The people should only use the air gun once and then pass it on to others who face similar issues, as first-time offenders are liable to pay a fine of Rs 50.
"Second-time offenders have to shell out Rs 50,000 fine and go to prison for a couple of months if they are booked for animal rights violation," James was quoted as saying.