(Warning: Disturbing images in story)
On Saturday, an animal rights activist living in Kannur received a call that dog catchers were dumping bodies of culled dogs at an area near her residence.
"I rushed to the spot, some reporters and photographers were already there," Sushma Prabhu said.
Men on mopeds were dumping the dead bodies. "There were already two heaps. Then one more man came on a moped, I had seen him before. He was a dog catcher from Tamil Nadu who had come to Kannur two or three years ago too," she said.
When questioned, the man replied i the affirmative that he had been called by a 'panchayat' to cull dogs.
Officials of Puzhathi panchayat howeber Sunday washed their hands of the mass killing of stray dogs, saying they had no role in it nor commissioned anyone to do it.
One of the dog catchers
"We have no role in the mass killing of stray dogs," N. Ramakrishnan of the panchayat told media persons on Sunday, after activists said that around 40 stray dogs including puppies were killed using potassium cyanide on Saturday.
Sushma however believes that the killing was a clever exercise. "They killed a few dogs, and we protested. A large section of the public want dogs culled. Now the government, panchayat or municipality can simply say they can't cull anymore as activists are protesting, turning the ire on us."
Even when a section of dog-lovers objected to the killings, another section of residents confronted them saying they were at the receiving end and got bitten by stray dogs.
For the past few months, the stray dog menace has been hugely debated in the Kerala assembly, forcing Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to call a meeting of various departments.
The meeting agreed to go ahead with accepted norms like animal birth control measures and sterilisation of dogs by holding of special camps. It was also decided that rules should be adhered to when dangerous dogs need to be culled.
The state government's initial decision to take stern action against dangerous dogs had resulted in a huge online campaign called 'Boycott Kerala'. Though the campaign was largely meant to dissuade the government from culling dogs, the debate soon degenerated into a fight between 'Keralites vs non-Keralites' and 'human lovers vs animal lovers'. With pictures to back their claim, animal rights activists now want cases to be registered against authorities who ordered for the kill.