by Tanvi Jadwani
Chennai, Oct 30: The fate of stray dogs in Chennai appears doubtful as the plans of Chennai Corporation to open a dog shelter have not yet materialized. There seems to be a lot of confusion within the corporation officials about the existence of a corporation run dog shelter in the city, which according to news reports, was inaugurated in the month of March last year.
The shelter was supposed to be located near the Kannamapet burial ground and additionally had a burial space allocated exclusively for pets. The employees at the shelter were also to be trained to take care of the physically and mentally unwell dogs at the first government dog shelter in Chennai.
A year and a half later, there is no government run dog shelter in Kannampet or any other place in the city. Both, the police and the people in Kannamapet remain unaware of any such development in their area and have no idea about a 35,000 Square feet shelter existing next to the burial ground.
The Public Relation officer with the Chennai Corporation said that the shelter was opened right before the elections and is very much in place. Mr. A. Palani, Health Committee Chairman of Chennai Corporation agreed saying, “Yes, it is opened.”
Dr. Rajkumar, Chennai Zone- 10 health officer, corrected that there is no government run dog shelter. Instead there is a government run dog clinic by the name of “Pet Clinic Kannamapet”. The Clinic was opened in March 2013 and performs Animal Birth Control (ABC) on pet animals free of cost. The clinic has no rescue squad and no shelter. Sree Vidhya, head veterinary at the Kannamapet clinic, confirmed that they only treat pet animals and not stray dogs.
Apart from the Blue Cross, there are only Private animal shelters in the city which have been repeatedly reported for the behaviour of animal cruelty. The Blue Cross and People For Animals in North Chennai have been performing active sterilization on dogs in Chennai, confirmed the Animal Welfare Board of India. There still no cemetery for pets in Chennai. Madras canine club (MCC), which was supposed to set up a crematorium in Mylapore in 2010, is still pending.
Dr. Mathews John of the Madras Canine Club said, “Our club is attempting to have a cremation ground for animals and the facility of electronic cremation for the pets but the Chennai Corporation has stalled the process by not granting us permission”.
Satya Rama, an Honorary Secretary of Blue Cross said that the Blue Cross of India receives many calls inquiring about a pet cemetery but they don’t have one in the city. There is a possibility of one being in Mylapore.
Opposing the need of a permanent animal shelter, VinodKumar Shankarapaniker, Assistant Secretary of the Animal Welfare Board of India said that the Rule 12 of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) dog rules states that every animal breeder needs to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India. The Madras Canine Club did not get their registration done. They wanted to conduct show in Chennai where animals were used as props for entertainment.
VinodKumar stated that it is the responsibility of the corporation to control the dog population in their area with ABC. He believes that an animal shelter run by untrained employees is a bad idea.
Recalling the horrific incident of a government run dog pound in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, which was managed by the Municipal Corporation, where only nine dogs survived out of the fifty which were put in a dog pound. The dogs in the pound were all starved, mistreated and were derived of any medical assistance. The Assistant Secretary believes that an untrained team to run a dog shelter will lead to similar circumstances in Chennai too.
The rule under the Animal Birth Control act of 2001, the government of India does not allow animals to be impounded in a place. The ABC rules for dogs state that stray dogs can be caught, sterilized, immunized and need to be realised at the same place or locality from where they were captured.
“We wrote to the Chennai Corporation that having a permanent dog pound is illegal”, said VinodKumar.
“The corporation thinks that the best way to solve dog menace in the city is by simply putting them in a shelter”, he added. “There is more to this. They will end up infecting the healthy dogs by putting them with infected dogs. To perform effective ABC, we need qualified people do the surgery, adequate infrastructure, trained dog catchers, dog pound needed for rest after the sterilization. There is a humane way to do it. The corporation is very crude when it comes to catching dogs. The corporation will not get a doctor who will check and segregate mentally and physically ill animals. They will simply net all the animals and will just take them to the shelter.”
Agreeing with a need for a government run crematorium for animals in the city, VinodKumar said that this will only happen when people start respecting animals and leave the prejudice behind.
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