Outcry Over Odisha Order to Remove Stray Dogs From Roads

Bhubaneswar: Following the increasing stray dogs menace in Hyderabad, the Odisha government too has ordered the removal of all stray dogs from the roads. This order has led to a public debate as society is divided over the decision of the government. Odisha is home to more than 17 lakh street dogs, which is the second highest number in the country.

As per the Livestock Census 2019, Odisha has 17,34,399 stray dogs while Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of 20,59,261 street dogs in the country. The number of street dogs in Odisha increased to 17,34,339 in 2019 from 8,62,520 in 2012 as per the livestock census. The figures show the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme has failed in Odisha and controlling the stray dogs is going to be a major challenge before the state in a sooner or later stage.

In this backdrop and the Hyderabad incident in which a four-year-old boy was mauled to death by stray dogs in the street, Odisha Animal Resources Development Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain recently asked all chief district veterinary officers to be vigilant and remove such canines from the streets.

This instruction has been welcomed by many. However, dog lovers demanded the rollback of the order. It is true that cruelty among street dogs has increased with the increase in their population. Commuters are facing difficulty on the streets especially at night, said Odia comedian Raju Das.

“However, we cannot kill them. Steps need to be taken to remove the dogs who are attacking human beings from the streets. But they should be rehabilitated properly,” he suggested. “The street dogs have the right to live in our society. Considering one incident, if we ask for the removal of all steer dogs, it will not be proper. We can remove only the vicious dogs,” said Sumitra Das, a dog lover.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India campaign manager, Radhika Suryavanshi said the solution is sterilisation. Sterilising one female dog can prevent 67,000 births in six years, and sterilising one female cat can prevent 4,20,000 births in seven years, she claimed. She said that sterilised animals lead longer, healthier lives and, in the case of males, are less likely to fight or bite.

Following the hue and cry, the Minister issued a series of tweets and said his earlier tweet should not be misconstrued. “In the wake of recent incidents of aggressive canine behaviour reported in neighbouring states, Govt of Odisha has taken stock of situation & directed concerned officials to be vigilant in averting such incidents by going for increased sterilisation operations through ABC program,” Swain said in his recent tweet.

He said the anti-rabies vaccine should be administered to sterilised stray and pet canines. He advised pet owners to be cautious and hold their pets on a leash whenever they are taken outside their homes. In the event of any incident of dog bite either by a pet or a stray dog, it should be immediately attended by a medical team and steps should be taken by the municipal authorities to restrain the animal for assessment of its health condition, Swain added.

Meanwhile, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has decided to intensify the animal birth control programme in the city with the help of a private agency. The municipal authority has also decided to implement rules and regulations for pet animals.

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