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Amid hike in cases, Kerala Govt to seek permission from SC to cull rabies-infected stray dogs


Thiruvananthapuram: Amid the hike in incidents of deadly stray dog behaviour across the state, the Kerala government decided to use extreme measures to keep the stray dog menace in check. Local self-government minister M B Rajesh said on Monday that the Kerala government would seek the permission of the Supreme Court to cull aggressive and rabies-infected stray dogs.

Meanwhile, the minister said that a stepped-up month-long vaccination drive would be conducted from September 20 to October 20. The decisions were taken at an inter-departmental meeting convened by the minister in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. The government has decided to approach the Supreme Court as existing laws do not allow the killing of stray dogs. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the subordinate rules it spawned, Animal Birth Control (ABC) Rules, 2001, prohibit killing or even maiming of stray dogs.

In 2016, the Supreme Court had warned vigilante groups in Kerala that had taken it upon themselves to shoot down the ferocious canine population and who had gone around distributing cheap air guns to the public and exhorting them to do the same. The apex court had then said that human life was not superior to animal life. Nonetheless, the Court had also said that dangerous canines could be exterminated using methods prescribed under municipal laws. Currently, the apex court is seized of the matter.

On September 9, while hearing a petition moved by a Kerala lawyer on the death of a 12-year-old dog bite victim, it called for a balance between kindness towards stray dogs and the necessity of protecting people from the aggression of strays. it even observed that those feeding strays should be held accountable for the violence of these dogs. The Court also called for a status report from the Justice Siri Jagan Commission, which was constituted by it in 2016 to deal with complaints of dog bites.

Rajesh said that it was the High Court interim order in 2021 to suspend the funding of the birth control programme rolled out by the Kudumbashree that hampered the ABC programme in Kerala. He said that when the apex court hears the case on September 28, the state government will seek permission for Kudumbashree to catch dogs as well. Special attention will be given to hotspots identified by the Health Department and the Animal Welfare Department. Areas around schools will also be given preference. A special awareness campaign is also planned in parallel with the vaccination campaign. Shelters will be arranged at the panchayat level to accommodate the stray dogs. Vacant places and buildings will be identified for this purpose. The possibility of administering oral vaccinations to dogs will also be explored, Ragesh said.

The stray dog menace has worsened in Kerala leading to seven deaths in four months from May 2022. The deceased – all between the ages of 12 and 65 – are 12-year-old Abhirami, Mohammad Razan (12) from Malappuram’s Chelembra, Omana (65) from Murikkasseri in Idukki, Sreelakshmi (19) from Palakkad, Kamalakshi (59) from Palakkad’s Kumaranalloor and Perambra native Chandrika (53). They died of rabies infection. Thrissur native Thaivalappil Sheela (52) died of a heart attack on the fourth day after a dog bite. Of the seven deceased, all except Omana had taken rabies vaccinations.

The government also mulled steps to ensure the immediate removal of garbage from the streets. It observed that garbage heaps on the road facilitated the rapid stray dog menace in the state. District collectors and district panchayat presidents will call a meeting to find solutions to this problem. Public participation will also be sought to remove the garbage.


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