Tirupati: In a rather bizarre move, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) has issued notices to dog owners who have been living atop Tirumala for decades, to get rid of their pet dogs. The TTD claims there is a provision under Section 114(3) (1) (ii) of the Endowments Act 30 of 1987, which says straying of any cattle, pigs or dogs prohibited within Tirumala and also as per the general terms and conditions of allotment of Balajinagar tenements, which states pet animals are banned at Tirumala and accordingly issued notices to pet owners on January 24 that their houses given by TTD under displacement category will be cancelled if they didn’t get rid of their pet dogs within three days of getting the notice.
Pet owners, who are much attached to their pets, are under a great deal of emotional stress; they are faced with the unfair option of abandoning their pets or leaving their homes and going elsewhere.
“I have been raising a dog for 10 years; my whole family was weeping soon after we received a notice from the TTD to get rid of the dog, which we treat as one of our family. The dog’s life span is just 13 years. It is now 10 years old. We request the TTD to give us permission to keep the dog until its life span,” said a tearful local pet owner. “After receiving the notice, we felt that the locals of Tirumala are living under tyranny. Pets are part of the family, how can TTD impose such restrictions on them, leaving us in distress. In the past, they raised objections to us raising cows here; we accepted it and got rid of our cattle. Now, they are forcing us to get rid of our pet dogs and we are helpless because how can we leave our home town?” said another local pet owner.
The TTD’s diktat has stoked a controversy on rights and the temple administration has come under fire from animal lovers. “In this independent country, we have our rights. There is a clear provision that no organisation or society should expel pets from the community or apartments unless they are subjected to any kind of viral diseases. TTD’s move in this regard is a clear violation of the provision and overruling one’s rights,” said P. Naveen Kumar Reddy, a senior Congress leader and a pet owner.
He claims that the temple administration is not bothered about the “big shots of the TTD who have pet dogs atop Tirumala. Instead they point to locals who have been settled here even before the formation of the TTD.”
He said the TTD has done nothing about the wild animals and pigs that roam freely across Tirumala, causing panic among pilgrims. “Instead of concentrating on erecting fences across the Alipiri footpath and Balaji Nagar area, where the wild animals are spotted often, the officials are creating unnecessary issues on pet dogs, which actually help locals to drive away the wild animals from residential areas,” Mr Reddy pointed out.