The condition of stray dogs confined at Chennai’s Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) campus is worsening with each passing day. On Friday, October 22, three malnourished dogs were taken to a private clinic at RA Puram in the city with severe skin infections and deteriorating health. From the pictures of the dogs admitted at the SKS Pet Clinic, it can be seen that they are malnourished, with bones sticking out. They have skin infections and are barely able to stand on their feet.
The veterinarians at the clinic who inspected all three dogs observed that the animals have sunken eyes and are anaemic. The report further stated that the dogs have been ‘off food for a very long time’ and are dehydrated. Importantly, the veterinarians at the clinic noted that the dogs do not show any history of vaccination or deworming, the primary reason cited by the IIT-M management for capturing the stray dogs on their campus in October 2020.
Subsequently, the veterinarians noted that all three dogs are in poor health. They are anaemic and their vital levels are seriously low. The veterinarians further said that two of the dogs have been kept in the Intensive Critical Care and that they need 24 hours to give an update on their status. Meanwhile, the third dog, which has sarcoptic mites that causes intense itching, was adopted by a Chennai-based NGO.
The dogs refused to eat when the veterinarians at the clinic tried to feed them. Only after persuasion and hand feeding did the dogs eat a little, they said.
Meanwhile, a source told TNM that besides these three dogs, there are nearly 10 dogs with similar conditions at the enclosure set up by the IIT-M management.
A source in connection with the incident at IIT-M said the management is claiming that the dogs are aggressive in nature and are using muzzles. However, despite being in confinement, the dogs are friendly.
Due to repeated calls for attention from animal rights activists and media coverage, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian inspected the supposed ‘dog park’ set up inside the IIT-M campus. During the inspection, the management confessed that about 57 dogs have died, which is 30% of the population confined inside the dog enclosure. The management further told the minister that 29 dogs were given for adoption, 14 dogs have been released on the campus, and currently the dog enclosure has 87 dogs. In total, 185 dogs have been captured since October 2020.
Minister Subramanian ordered IIT-M to submit a detailed report on the 29 dogs given for adoption. It is to be noted that on October 15, KB Harish, an animal rights activist, filed a complaint with the Chennai Commissioner against IIT-M Registrar Jane Prasad and the management for the deaths of the dogs.
Speaking to TNM, Arun Prasanna, the founder of People for Cattle in India (PFCI), said, “The management took 185 dogs since October last year. Now they claim 57 dogs died, 14 dogs have been released and 29 have been given for adoption. The point to note here is that it is a herculean task to get 29 adult feral dogs adopted.”
“The IIT-M management's claim that 29 dogs were adopted seems inaccurate. Hence it is mandatory that they should provide evidence of adoption. Otherwise we have no choice but to assume that something wrong has happened to the dogs, and demand action against them,” said Arun.
Arun further said that releasing 14 dogs on campus seems to be a false claim. “During our visit to the campus for close to three hours, we did not see even a single dog inside the campus," he said.
Speaking about building a dog enclosure, Arun said, “Dogs are feral animals that should be let free. This is unfortunate. And I think the management is starving them to death. The dogs are killed and silently buried. 57 dogs died and the management did not conduct a single post-mortem. Only due to the minister's visit, the post-mortem was initiated for a dog’s death.”
Speaking about the need for strict laws, Arun added that a professor from IIT-Bombay has enquired about setting up a similar enclosure on their campus. “This shows that IIT-M’s dog enclosure is setting a precedent to others," he pointed out.
An official at the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) said that GCC currently only operates birth control facilities and does not have a shelter for stray dogs. “The Madras High Court order that is set for November should provide a fair judgement. Containing any animal for that matter is unacceptable,” added the official.
The Madras High Court on September 17 ordered the Tamil Nadu government to make sure that the IIT-M campus does not house stray dogs in enclosures created by the institute's management.