Growing canine problem dogs Odisha

Growing canine problem dogs Odisha

It  was an unusual scene. Even the reaction surprised many. In the midst of naxal hostage crisis in Odisha in April last, the state secretariat in  Bhubaneswar witnessed an interesting incident involving Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The chief minster was busy giving bytes to electronic media on one evening after presiding over a high-level official meeting on the hostage crisis when he suddenly made a face and stopped speaking. He was not irked by some uncomfortable questio­ns posed by electronic and print media journalists.

What irritated and left the chief minister unhappy was the nuisance created by a few stray dogs that had snea­ked into the state’s administrative headquarters and were barking repeatedly.

He was so upset that he immediately summoned Home Secretary U N Behera and directed him to free the secretariat off the stray dogs.

“Ensure that these stray dogs do not spoil the working environment inside the secretariat premises. The secretariat is an important place where people from across the state as well as outside and even abroad visit for different purposes. What impression will they carry when they will encounter these stray dogs inside the
secretariat”, Patnaik thundered.

The very next morning the home secretary ordered the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation  to clear the important building off the stray dogs and that was done without any delay. “Immediately after that incident, we launched a special
operation and removed all the stray dogs from the building. We are checking
periodically to ensure that the secretariat building remains free from the stray dog menace,” said Bhubaneswar Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena.

The dog problem had come to an end, at least for the time being, in the state
secretariat following the chief minister’s intervention. However, it continues to be a major headache for the authorities as well as common man in rest of the state,
including Bhubaneswar.

According to a recently released government report, the population of stray dogs in the state has already crossed the four-lakh mark. The highest number of stray dogs--a whopping 49,061--has been identified in the tribal-dominated western Odisha district of Sundergarh, followed by the important coastal district of Khurda (28,883). Capital Bhubaneswar is part of the coastal district.

A large number of stray dogs have been found in Kandhamal (28,537), Mayurbhanj (28,520), Koraput (26,846) and Malkangiri (19,320).

Cuttack which houses the historic more than 1,000-year-old Cuttack city, Odisha’s erstwhile capital and state’s second biggest urban centre after Bhubaneswar, is also not free from the menace of street dogs. According to the report, the city currently has more than 27,000 stray dogs. The western Odisha Sonepur district is having the lowest number of 5,364 street dogs.

The stray dog menace continues to be a major headache for local authorities in different districts despite release of funds by the state government at regular intervals to handle the problem through various means, particular sterilisation of the dogs. The urban development department had sanctioned nearly Rs 1 crore during the 2010-11 financial year for this purpose. The fund was to be utilised in all the major urban pockets in the state.

Similarly, during the 2011-12 fiscal, Rs 80 lakh had been sanctioned for eight towns in the state. However, the fund release exercise has not been able to yield any
satisfactory results.

Not that the authorities of the urban centres, where the problem is more acute, are not going for sterlisation of the stray dog - the only way experts believe the menace can be controlled.

They do the exercise from time to time. But they don’t do it, according to the experts, in a proper manner.

“The sterilisation exercise cannot be a success and dog population will multiply rapidly if 80 per cent of the stray dogs in one particular city or town are not sterilised at one go,” said Jiban Das, the head of the state unit of People for Animals.

But the authorities who mostly depend on the government’s own agencies like the veterinary department to conduct the exercise seem to be not following that.
Many believe that the situation may go out of control if the government does not initiate proper steps to tackle the problem.

 The cases of dog bites are already on the rise in a majority of the urban pockets in the state. “One can see people queuing up in front of government hospitals everyday in urban centres like Bhubaneswar for dog bite treatment,” said Das.

Agreed Dr Sudarsan Das, chief medical officer of Capital Hospital, the biggest government-run medical facility in Bhubaneswar. “Now we receive 80 to 100 dog bite cases everyday,” he said. Not only cases of dog bites but accidents,
particularly involving drivers of two wheelers, due to the dog menace on the streets are also on the rise in urban centres like the state capital.

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