At any given point of time, Narne road in Hyderabad has over 15 stray dogs, says Manish*, an independent animal rescuer. “But over the last 48 hours, there’s not a single dog in sight,” he observes.
Manish, a resident of Banjara Hills, and his friends who live in Jubilee Hills have similar things to report about the sudden disappearance of stray dogs in these neighbourhoods.
“They say that a number of street dogs have been picked up by the Corporation in the last two days,” he says.
In the lead up to US President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor Ivanka’s visit to Hyderabad for the GES Summit, the Telangana government has been bending over backwards to give the city a facelift. This has included some controversial measures like declaring a ‘ban’ on begging, and relocating beggars to rehabilitation centres.
On Wednesday, shocking allegations emerged about stray dogs being rounded up and poisoned by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation ahead of Ivanka’s visit. Residents of Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills told Anusha Puppala for Deccan Chronicle that stray dogs have been found with symptoms of poisoning such as fainting and frothing in the mouth.
Others said that the strays picked up by the Corporation have not been returned to the same place. Though it is the law for stray dogs to be picked up, sterilised, and released back into the same area.
The Deccan Chronicle report also mentions an incident where doctors confirmed that a dog, found fainting and frothing in the mouth, had indeed been poisoned. The dog died due the poisoning but the report does not say when this happened.
TNM spoke to Pradeep Nair, founder of Animal Warriors India, a group of people rescuing animals in need. While aware of the allegations of poisoning against the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), he clarifies that the above mentioned case of the poisoned dog is two to three weeks old.
“Another animal rescue organisation had found a dog which was frothing in the mouth and fainting. The doctor did confirm that it was a case of poisoning. However, the dog could simply have eaten something poisonous from the garbage or something,” Pradeep says. The dog succumbed to the condition later.
Pradeep adds that to his knowledge after having spoken to other animal welfare workers and organisations in the city, there haven’t been more cases of poisoning reported in the past two days, contrary to the claims.
However, Manish maintains that rounding up a number of strays suddenly does not add up. “We are not saying they have taken the dogs to poison them. But it is suspicious nevertheless. Even if they say they have taken them in for adoption, how many people will adopt a full grown Indian mongrel? They’ll adopt one, not 20,” he argues.
Corporation officials, meanwhile, maintain that this is part of routine Animal Birth Control (ABC) Program, and the timing has nothing to do with Ivanka Trump’s visit to the city.
JD Wilson, Assistant Director at the Veterinary Department (Central Zone) at the GHMC, says, “In a day we round up upto 15 stray dogs. Even now what we are doing is part of the ABC program. We will operate on them and then keep them in the shelters we have for five days or so. Once they have recovered, we will release them back into the same areas.”
Wilson added that this was not being done in time for Ivanka’s visit on November 28. “These are all false rumours,” he added.