SC panel for ‘immediate reduction’ of stray dog population in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram,Oct21:An “immediate reduction” in excessive stray dog population, and not birth control, is the need of the hour in Kerala if the people of the State are to have a sense of security, a Supreme Court-appointed committee led by former Kerala High Court judge Justice S. Siri Jagan told the apex court on Wednesday.

The Committee  has also warned the state government to go in for stringent measures to reduce the number of stray dogs in Kerala, failing which people would have no option but to cull them.

The three-member panel headed by former Kerala High Court judge Justice (Rtd.) S Siri Jagan was constituted in April 2016 to look into the mounting stray dog menace and complaints of dog-bite victims in Kerala.

It submitted its report to the Supreme Court on October 1 this year.

Quoting from the report:

“In view of the very grave situation prevailing in the State on account of the stray dog menace, in order to safeguard the interests of the people of the State and to protect the people from the dangers caused by stray dogs, it is imperative to find some means for the immediate reduction of the stray dog population in the State to a manageable level, on a war footing, failing which the people are likely to take law into their own hands and start culling of dogs by themselves, which has already begun in some places openly under the leadership of members of local authorities and other social activists.

The past 15 years has seen an exponential increase in the state’s dog population which as per the latest official records stands at 9,23,359, of which stray dogs constitute 2,68,994.

Coming down heavily on the authorities for its lackadaisical approach to implementing the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, the Committee pointed out that only 4834 ABC procedures were done in 2015-16. “Even if the ABC procedures are to be implemented in full swing in the State immediately, it would take years to produce any significant result,” the report says.

Refuting the animal lovers’ stance that ABC would reduce the aggressiveness or ferocity of the dogs, the Committee said that there was no evidence to support the claim. “There is no evidence that Animal Birth Control Procedures reduce ferocity in dogs…and cannot be a solution to the immediate problem faced by the people in view of the excessive dog population in the state.”

Pointing out the impracticality of such programs, the Committee said that after ABC procedures, dogs are set free on the streets, and “the people have no way of knowing whether the dog which bit them was vaccinated or not, forcing them to take the anti- rabies vaccine.”

The Committee was also critical of the state government for not providing appropriate infrastructure facilities to process the compensation claims received from dog-bite victims.

Other recommendations of the Committee are:

– Make available Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) and Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG) in all Public Health Institutions in the State.

– Properly train Medical Officers/Staff Nurses on management of animal-bite cases.

– Proper Waste Management by all local authorities employing modern scientific methods.

– Control, vaccination and sterilization of Stray Dogs with identification tab, to identify that the animal has been vaccinated and sterilized.

– Licensing of domesticated animals with proper vaccination against Rabies and identification tab to identify that the animal is licensed to the person to whom the license is issued.

BG Harindranath -State Law Secretary- and Dr. R Ramesh -Director of State Health Service- were the other members of the panel.

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