Elaine, a veterinary nurse who has been living in Mamallapuram for 14 years, was perplexed when the panchayat informed her that stray dogs in her area will be removed on account of the informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 11 and 12 at the tourist spot.
The Mamallapuram panchayat is sprucing up the village and other nearby areas of the summit venue to host the two top leaders of Asia. The local body, which removed stray dogs under the pretext of relocating them, hasn’t revealed where it had taken them. No one has gotten any clue regarding their whereabouts.
“We are really concerned about this issue. I have been seeing these stray dogs for years now and I am worried about their safety. Where have they been taken? Will they be brought back? Are they in a safe place? We neither know nor have we got any answers from the officials. Numerous trips to the police have also not resulted in eliciting any reassurance that the dogs would be safely brought back,” says Elaine.
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The Blue Cross of India in Chennai says that they have received many complaints from the residents of Mamallapuram stating that stray dogs have gone missing in recent days. “The Panchayat claims that these dogs have been taken for ABC (Animal Birth Control) surgery. But many of them have already been vaccinated and sterilized by the Blue Cross,” says Arpitha Rao, Manager – Communication, Blue Cross India, Chennai.
Innumerable attempts made by The Federal to get a response from the panchayat were of no avail.
According to the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) rules of 2001, even if dogs are captured for sterilization purposes, there is a certain protocol to follow. Under this rule, puppies less than six months, dogs that are pregnant, and dogs that have contagious diseases cannot be caught.
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The Supreme Court, in 2009, ordered that street dogs shouldn’t be removed or relocated from anywhere in India. It ruled that a violation of the directive is punishable. “This is not the first time the removal of street dogs has taken place. Street dogs are removed and relocated by people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they aren’t just relocated but killed too. But do we really consider how merciless and insensitive it is to do this?” says Janani Krishnamurthy, an animal activist from KSPCA (Kodaikanal Society for the Protection and Care for Animals).
However, despite the prevalence of rules and regulations, and in spite of activists fighting for animal rights, hundreds of street dogs go missing from our streets every night, she further laments.
“Street dogs are called so because they reside in the streets. How will you feel if you are kicked out of your residence, where you have been living for years, for someone else’s convenience? That’s the same thing that you are doing to dogs too,” says Janani.