Dog Lovers, Civic Bodies Must Show Some Responsibility

29 Jan, 2018 12:17 IST|Sakshi
That the civic bodies have miserably failed on neutering dogs – culling is now prohibited by law – is a different issue but the dog lovers need to accept some responsibility.

Mahesh Vijapurkar

This would not be liked by dog lovers, of whom there are two kinds. Those who keep them as pets, and those who don’t but feed the strays. Of the first, there are two categories, the first – and perhaps only a few - who get the dog licence from the civic bodies and the second who don’t even bother to.

It is unlikely any civic body would be able to pin down the dog population in its jurisdiction, either of the pets or strays, or both. Obviously there would be, by the logic of the numbers you sight on any given day, a larger number of strays. Objecting to feeding the strays is taken as an offence and SPCA can lunge at you.

I am not a dog lover, butacknowledge that those pet-owners and feeders of strays have their rights. But one would like to seethem showing some responsibility. If your pet can lick your face, sleep in your bed, why should it be taken to the streets to defecate? Some pay ‘dog-walkers’ to get it done as a daily chore.

Those who feed the strays are a community which talks in unison when anyone prevents them from feeding them on streets. Since the feeding is usually at a regular spot, it is both convenient for the stray-lovers and the dogs who settle down there as if they are permanent residents. Such areas are rendered dog-prone.

Ask a person who feeds a stray if he or she takes care to ensure the canines are vaccinated against rabies, there wouldn’t be a straight answer; an argument, asking if any specific dog had bitten an individual who suffered as a consequence. Nor would they have interacted with the civic body to ensure their neutering to avoid growth of dog population.

That the civic bodies have miserably failed on neutering dogs – culling is now prohibited by law – is a different issue but the dog lovers need to accept some responsibility. To them, poop on the road or sidewalk is of no consequence while many have to walk wary of it. I wonder if any one has carried a scoop to pick up the poop.

Asking them to scoop up the poor may sound facetious because in our country we are continuing to find it an uphill task to prevent humans from defecating in the open. It is costing us money via a government campaign paid for by a Swacch Bharat surcharge. But love for dogs, especially strays, should entail some civic responsibility.

Dog bites in the past two decades had led to several deaths by rabies in Mumbai, with the numbers being appalling. More people were killed by dog bites there than the serial bombing of 1993 and the horrendous 26/11 siege of Mumbai by terrorists of whom Kasab was a part, did. But the civic body is nowhere near waging a battle, leave alone winning a war against strays.

It is in this context that I was surprised to read in The Hindu on Monday that Kerala Government viewed pay-outs to dog bite victims as “exorbitant” in some cases, of Rs 20 lakh. Its argument is that the state provided free medical aid for dog bite victims. By this view, it ignored the possibility of making civic bodies more accountable because the pay-outs come from the municipal coffers. They are not exorbitant, they rightly are punitive for those not performing mandated duties.

This is not a small issue, considering the country is host to nearly three crore strays and about 20,000 die of rabies every year. In Mumbai alone, where man has no space to walk, has seen strays bite 13 lakh between 1994 and 2015 and each city or town would have its own not so happy statistics of strays and pets’ bites and rabies’ related deaths, including

Just relive the horror which struck Dhiraj Yadav, a class II student in Bhiwandi, who was playing in a dump yard. He accidentally fell on a dog, which with its nine other feral associated bit him to an extent that a local civic hospital had to refer him to a bigger one. The boy died. Few years ago, nine-year old Shahid Nasim Sayyed was almost torn to bits by dogs necessitating over 100 sutures on his face, hands, chest.

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