'No work takes place at govt animal homes'

Maneka Gandhi, MP, has built herself a formidable reputation as a no-holds-barred animal welfare activist. She agrees that the best way to deal with stray dogs is sterilisation.

Excerpts from an interview with Sumit Kumar Singh:

We all know that the condition of stray animals in most parts of the capital is bad. Stray dogs are perhaps more visible because of their high numbers. How do you think strays can be included in the structure of society?

In a city of two crore people, it is natural that stray dogs will be there on the streets. The stray dogs can be included in society’s structure when people start considering them as a part of it. Their population has declined a lot in the city, and we are trying to ensure proper care and attention is given to stray dogs in distress. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi is also trying to ensure proper sterilisation of stray dogs and they are looking at it systematically – colonies after colonies.

How is your organisation People for Animals, which is India's leading animal advocacy group, keep a check on strays?

We house around 4,000 animals, including dogs, in our shelter. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi or Delhi Police or any other organisation –  whenever they find animals in distress they immediately bring them to our organisation, where we provide proper treatment and care. On a daily basis, we get around 100 animals in distress. For stray dogs, we ensure an effective sterilisation programme all across India. Street dogs are caught, operated upon, tagged and inoculated before being returned to their original areas to live out their natural lives healthily and harmlessly.

Is government help coming to your NGO?

We run the organisation on our own and do not get any aid from the government.

Do you think vaccination and sterilisation are the answer to what is called the stray dog problem?

Yes absolutely. When they are sterilised, they become less aggressive and don’t bite. Stray dogs which are not sterilised give birth to pups on streets that die due to various reasons. Either they are crushed by vehicles or they die of starvation. Due to sterilisation, dog bites, from 36,000 annually, have come down to 8,000. And of these, 90 per cent are by pet dogs.

What about animal shelters? Are there enough in the capital?

There are seven non governmental organisations working in this field. However, there is only one animal shelter in the national capital. All the government animal shelters are technically open on paper but virtually no work takes place there. All animal shelters run by the animal husbandry department under Delhi government are almost empty, except the Moti Bagh centre.

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