Stray dogs menace: BBMP has failed

The recent death of two children who were bitten by stray dogs underscores yet again the failure of civic authorities to address the stray dog menace in Bengaluru. In late August, an 11-year-old boy was mauled by dogs in Vibhutipura. He succumbed to his injuries soon after. Four days later, a three-year-old girl was mauled to death in Chikkasandra. These are not one-off incidents. There have been around 1.91 lakh cases of stray dogs biting people in Bengaluru over the past decade. Several of them even lost their lives. This is not a small number and Bengaluru’s civic authorities need to wake up. Two officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s Animal Husbandry Department, assistant director Dr Shriram and senior veterinary doctor Arun Muthalik Desai, as well as contractor Ravishankar, have been arrested and charged under Sections 289 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code. What after that? Every time an incident of dog-bite happens in Bengaluru, a few officials are suspended or arrested and BBMP officials and ministers make grand promises. Within a few days, with television cameras moving away, suspended officials are reinstated and it is business as usual. Is this drama going to play out this time as well?

The BBMP has swung between extremes when it comes to dealing with stray dogs. Either it captures and kills them en masse or ignores the problem altogether. Animal activists have called for sterilisation of dogs and over a decade ago, BBMP did initiate an Animal Birth Control programme wherein animal welfare NGOs were funded to sterilise the dogs. However, the ABC programme was not implemented fully and just a fraction of the 1.85 lakh stray dogs in Bengaluru were sterilised. Meanwhile, their numbers have multiplied. The low priority BBMP accords the stray dog menace is evident from the fact that Bengaluru has just two dog catching squads. 

The dog-bite problem affects Bengaluru’s poor and homeless the most: ragpickers rummaging through garbage heaps, children playing on streets, boys who cycle around at dawn to deliver newspapers, and men and women walking home after working the night-shift. It is time the BBMP put in short and long-term measures to address the problem. Sterilising dogs reduces the number of strays over the long-run. Meanwhile, the BBMP must encourage Bengalureans to adopt strays and keep them in their homes and rid the streets of wet waste, especially scrap meat disposed by butcher shops, to reduce human-animal confrontations on the streets. Importantly, children should be taught to avoid teasing dogs. This multi-pronged strategy must be implemented with vigour to ensure that our children are safe on the streets.

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Stray dogs menace: BBMP has failed

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