Kerala stray dog menace: Allow euthanizing rabid canines, govt urges SC
Concerned over the rise in incidents of stray dog attacks in the state, the Kerala government has urged the Supreme Court to allow euthanasia or mercy killing of violent canines, especially those suspected of having contracted rabies.
The state government informed the apex court that it issued an order on September 15 to manage various aspects of the stray dog menace, following a high-level meeting chaired by the minister for Local Self Government Department.
Ways to control stray dog bites and help bite victims to avoid contracting rabies were discussed at the meeting.
The government submitted that based on the discussions, a slew of priorities were chalked out to deal with the problem. They were:
- Building Information Education and Communication (IEC) and awareness on the issue of stray dogs and ways to tackle them, among the general public.
- Identifying areas/hotspots which have reported the maximum cases of stray dog bites.
- Conducting vaccination drive across all LSGS with special focus on hotspots.
- Capture of ferocious dogs from the streets and their rehabilitation in shelters equipped with food and care.
- Conducing cleanliness drive to eliminate wet waste like meat which usually attracts stray dogs.
The government in its plea stated that other arrangements at the community level like providing food to strays by roping in dog lovers, hoteliers and kennel owners will be made. The government has also ordered LSG-level committees of all local stakeholders to expedite the registration of pet dogs.
The government urged the court to allow the euthanasia of rabid dogs, as they, under the existent law are required to be confined until they die.
“One issue is pertaining to the matter of rabid/feral dogs. While the State Act and Rules provide for ‘destruction of dogs’ that are violent or rabid, no culling is undertaken currently as it is regarded as contrary to the Central Rules. When there is a zoonotic disease outbreak, culling of animals or birds (for bird flu or swine flu) is undertaken to prevent the spread. However, in the case of rabid dogs, they are only to be isolated till they die,” advocate CK, the Standing Counsel of the state government said in a written submission before the court.
“It is therefore prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to permit euthanasia or culling of violent and vicious stray dogs, in particular dogs suspected of having contracted rabies,” the plea added.
The state government’s plea comes days after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ruled out killing of dogs as a way to solve the ‘dog menace’ ailing the state, while stressing for a scientific solution.
Seeking the support of the general public to help tackle the crisis, Vijayan said the government was implementing a planned solution and the public should refrain from acts like beating, poisoning and tying up dogs. He also urged people to protect domestic dogs and not abandon them on the streets.
“This problem cannot be solved by killing the dogs. Registration of pet dogs will be made mandatory in the state. Panchayat will provide registration certificates within three days after completion of vaccination of domestic dogs,” the chief minister said.
The state government has already begun an intensive vaccination drive for stray dogs across the state.
While the state has reported seven fatalities due to dog bites in four months starting May, data from the Kerala Animal Husbandry department has said that rabies virus has almost doubled in the past five years. The chief reasons behind the increase in cases was the low rate of vaccination among dogs.