HYDERABAD: For millions of animals in the state, fruits of freedom seem to be forbidden. Even after 75 years of Independence, animal care has been neglected.
Even when there is a medical emergency, there is no government veterinary hospital open 24/7. Many stray animals are left in a helpless condition, sometimes leading to death, according to animal activists in the city.
According to the director of animal husbandry, S. Ramachander, there are eleven veterinary hospitals, six sub-centres, four university hospitals and six mobile vet clinics for animals in the city. However, the state has 85 lakh white and black cattle, 191 lakh sheep, highest in the country, 49 lakh goats, 8 crore poultry, 1.77 lakh pigs, and more than 5 lakh dogs.
Animal activists said even when they go to government-run hospitals, they had to buy medicine and were completely unsatisfied with the treatment in many cases. Most of the animals like cows, goats and buffaloes do not even receive any treatment and people are completely unaware of any such hospital set up for them. “There are hardly any government hospitals for the strays. Even if there are, the staff present there are unable to diagnose the disease. There is a basic treatment given for any animal which is administering painkiller and antibiotics. There are no proper facilities in the government hospitals like x-ray machines, blood test pictures and more,” said Aanchal Khanna, animal activist.
Another rescuer said that the helpline set up by the government for strays, 1962, was not always available. “When I dialled the helpline at night, the staff responded vaguely that they would soon be available, but were not,” said Akshita Sharma, a dog rescuer.
Ramachander added that Telangana was the first state to start mobile veterinary clinics in 2017. He also said there was no need for government veterinary hospitals to be open 24/7 and denied the allegations made by the activists.
He said, “There is one government hospital for every 10,000 animals. Our doctors work in night shifts when needed. We earlier tried to run a 24/7 government hospital for animals, but there were no cases at night so we stopped them. There are 1,100 para veterinarians, 1,200 veterinarians and 909 primary vet centres in the state and 909 mandal level doctors are able to perform surgeries. We have sufficient staff,” he added.
Activists requested the government to at least provide deworming tablets, one dispensary open 24/7 and basic facilities like fresh drinking water. “We see GHMC staff watering plants, why can't the government set up a few cement bowls and fill some water for the strays? Even some people make illogical arguments by saying that animal feeders were creating an imbalance in the ecosystem by feeding strays, increasing their population whereas they must be left to die so that the population of animals is in control,” said Jaya Reddy, head of an animal rescue group.
Officials of the veterinary wing of the GHMC said they only took care of birth control of dogs and cats and other than that, they did not provide any other help. When questioned about shelters, at least during monsoon or any medical help when animals were injured, the officials denied providing any such facilities.