With garbage littering its streets, Bengaluru is seeing a rise in its stray dog population. But the BBMP’s Animal Birth Control programme is finding it hard to keep pace as Palike has not released funds that help neuter stray dogs.
Once a Garden City, Bengaluru today is filled with filth in its streets that not only is an eyesore, but also draws stray dogs and cows that feed on the rubbish thrown on the wayside. Not surprisingly, the stray dog menace is rising on city roads, threatening passers-by, who get bitten should they encounter the animals in a dark alley, late at night or early in the morning on a deserted stretch.
Going by the livestock census of 2012 there are 80,399 stray dogs and 1,50,055 pet dogs in the city. And on an average, it reports some 1,000 dog bites every month ranging from minor scratches to severe bleeding. The only consolation is that there have been no deaths in Bengaluru from rabies over the past three years.
Getting to the heart of the problem, former Joint Director to Animal Husbandry, Dr Parvez Ahmed Piran, notes that the garbage issue needs to tackled aggressively as it is the biggest cause of increased breeding among dogs which feed on the food dumped on the roadsides. “Some 68 pups are being added to the stray dog population of the city every six months consequently. If there is no food the dog population will migrate to a place where it is available. The garbage issue clearly needs to be addressed urgently,” he stresses.
The city has had several wake-up calls in the past. Not long ago, in 2007, two children, Sridevi and Master Manunath were even mauled to death by stray dogs. But as with most issues this too has been forgotten, leaving the children and everyone else as vulnerable as always to the stray dogs prowling city streets.
It’s not just the poor parts of the city that see stray dogs on their streets but the posh ones too as garbage has invaded every nook and corner of Bengaluru. A resident of one of the poshest areas in the city, Defence Colony, Indirangar, 42-year-old Prakash says he recently helped a girl get to the nearest hospital after she was bitten by a stray dog late at night. “It is scary to go out late in the evening or early morning. We need to go out with some sort of protection,” he says.
And senior scientist, N. Balachandran, who lives on 13th Main, Indiranagar is afraid to step out of his gate because dogs have littered in the drain outside and turn ferocious to protect the puppies. “We have stopped going out at night for walks after ten at night. No one in this area dares to step out at that time and also early in the mornings,” he deplores. A security guard, Ashish, of an apartment at the end of the same lane grumbles that the dogs bark the whole night. “We have never seen the BBMP van come this side,” he adds. “Something needs to be done,” stresses a driver of one of the houses in the area.
Not surprisingly, the Chinmaya Mission Hospital (CMH) in Indiranagar treats close to five cases of dog bites every day. "Most cases that come to us are class three bites, meaning patients coming in have bleeding wounds which require immediate attention and use of immunoglobulin (Ig) which increases the cost of treatment as it is costly,” says Dr Murali Kumar, Casualty Medical Officer of CMH.
“Many cases that come to us are of people who have been bitten while on their early morning walks or when returning home after the night shifts. We get many cases of children bitten by dogs as well. We advise people to wear long sleeved clothes and jeans when out for walks and suggest the elderly carry walking sticks,” he adds, revealing the scale of the problem haunting the locality.
‘Need zone-wise ABC centres to house dogs’
As usual the BBMP is busy treating the problem rather than tackling the cause, or attacking it on both fronts simultaneously as it ideally should. While it clearly cannot be blind to the garbage-stray dog connection, the civic body appears to be still wondering why its Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme is not proving effective in controlling the dog population of Bengaluru.
Defending the BBMP’s record, its Joint Director of Animal Husbandry, Dr Maheshwara Gowda says the dogs are being regularly caught and neutered under the ABC programme and are administered anti-rabies vaccines. “So far this year some 2500 strays have been caught and neutered. In December we caught 3269 strays and neutered them,” he says, however, agreeing that the ABC programme needs to be intensified. This goes without saying as puppies and their ferocious mothers are spotted on several streets.
But this could be easier said than done as NGOs are now apparently reluctant to help with catching the dogs and neutering them with their payments being delayed due to shortage of fund for the programme. Also, ever since the ABC and anti-rabies vaccination programme began across the nation, the NGOs are reportedly finding it harder to get workers adept at catching dogs.
While the previous Budget saw the BBMP earmark a meagre `2 crore for the ABC programme and vaccinating 87,000 stray dogs across the city, Dr Maheshwara Gowda says ahead of the coming BBMP budget the Mayor has been requested to increase the funds to at least Rs 10 crore.
“We have also asked for zone wise ABC centres to house about a 100 dogs and at least two dog pounds of 800 dog capacity on the outskirts of the city. These dog pounds can be run with the support of dog lovers and donors,” he explains.
Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules
The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules provides for sterilising and immunising the dogs and returning them to the very location from where they were picked up once they recover from the animal birth control surgery....