GUWAHATI, Aug 17: In recent years, Guwahati has witnessed a tremendous rise in the stray dog population. This increase has led to an increase in instances of dog bites and rabies too. While the only way to curb the increasing numbers is regularly carrying out Animal Birth Control (ABC) and Anti-Rabies Vaccination (ARV) programmes, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has been largely unsuccessful in curbing the problem due to lack of fund and equipment.
Although counting of dogs and finding their exact number is difficult, a GMC official informed that there are about 1 lakh dogs currently living on the streets of the city. However, officials at a city-based animal welfare organization - Just Be Friendly (JBF) - claimed that going by the ratio of 1:40 (the current dog to human ratio in India is pegged at 1: 40, that is, 1 dog for every 40 human beings), Guwahati would have close to 30,000 dogs on the roads. The JBF had also conducted a sample survey on dog population on headcount basis within a radius of 10 square kilometres with the city’s Beltola-Survey area being the focal point. During the survey conducted in 2009, 3,000 dogs were found in Survey area alone.
JBF, in association with GMC, the nodal agency for tackling such activities, did start a sterilisation and vaccination drive in Guwahati. JBF has been working on neutralising the dogs since 2009. However, the organisation had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in September 2014 to operate on 4,500 stray dogs. The figure was achieved by March 2015.
In the financial year 2015-16, another MoU was signed wherein the GMC agreed to pay Rs 500 per dog to JBF to carry out the surgeries. However today, there’s an outstanding amount of Rs 6.63 lakhs that the JBF is yet to receive from GMC for the surgeries carried out.
The non-payment of dues, Veterinary Officer of GMC, said, “The state government has sanctioned an amount of Rs 50 lakhs for ABC and ARV programmes to be carried out in collaboration with JBF, but the amount hasn’t been released and there’s a massive fund crunch.”
Open garbage is the single most important reason behind the huge population of stray dogs in the city. Stray dogs are scavengers and rely on garbage on the street as a source of food. In places where garbage is kept in bins and cleaned regularly, stray dogs cannot survive on the streets.
Apart from tackling the garbage menace, regular ABC and ARV programs are necessary to slow down the increasing numbers. Under JBF’s Rabies Control Programme, the main initiative is Animal Birth Control (ABC) Operation and Anti-Rabies Vaccination (ARV) of stray dogs.
As part of the procedure, JBF picks up the animals from different parts of a city and brings them to their centre, operate on them, vaccinate them and give ‘V’-shaped ear notch to each animal for identification and easy recognition. After post-operative care, the animals are released in the same area from where they were picked up.
Benefits of the operation include reduced aggression in males, reduced urination and territorial marking, reduced wandering, reduced infighting between themselves, prevention of pyometra in female dogs and decreased incidence of mammary tumours. It also reduces human-animal conflict and bite cases.