Reward sparks stray dog killing spree in Kerala

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In open defiance of state police chief’s order; people in the southern Indian state of Kerala have gone on a stray dog killing spree. The killing spree started after a group in Ernakulam district declared a reward of Rs.500 for killing stray dogs that pose a threat to the lives of people. The organisation called ‘Theruvunaya Unmoolaa Sangham’ (Dog Eradication Group) was launched by a group of people at Perumbavoor.

Sangham president Joy Perumbavoor said that people from various parts of the state have been approaching them saying they had killed strays. He said that they will give money to those who come up with evidence.

The claimants include a 43-year-old auto rickshaw driver at Muvattupuzha, who claimed to have killed 130 dogs by feeding them poison-laced meat.

The auto driver named M J Shaji came up with the claim after State Director General of Police T P Senkumar issued a direction to all police stations to take action against those engaged in illegal culling of stray dogs.

The direction came on a letter from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which stated that killing of any animal, including stray dogs, was a crime and a cognizable offence under sections 428 and 429 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Shaji said he was ready to go to jail. He claimed that he had the support of the people in his hometown, where the stray dog has become a big menace. According to him, over 30 people, including children and elderly, have been bitten by stray dogs in last 6 months.

The Theruvunaya Unmoolana Sangham has also claimed overwhelming support from the people. Sangham chairman Jose Maveli many people had come forward to contribute money for the functioning of the group.

They have already got commitments to the tune of Rs500, 000. Jose, who has launched a signature driver to submit a petition signed by one million people to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said they had resorted to direct action as the authorities had failed to act despite a high court ruling that dogs which pose threats to the lives of the people could be killed.

Dr T P Sethumadhavan, Director of Entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University, said that the Animal Husbandry Department has been able to sterilise only less than 10,000 dogs a year now.

“This is less than 2 per cent of the estimated street dog population of 268, 000 in Kerala. If the Department moves in this pace, it will take at least 25 years to bring a marked difference in controlling the stray dog population of the state”, he said.

news@khaleejtimes.com

People may not wait so long as the number of dog bite cases has been showing a sporadic increase in the last few years. As per figures furnished in the State Assembly by Health Minister V S Sivakumar, 119,000 cases of dog bite were reported in the state during the calendar year 2014. The minister told the Assembly that as many as 26 people had died of rabies in the state in the past three years.

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