Stray dog attacks in Kerala are on the rise again – The New Indian Express
Express press service
KOCHI: Soaring incidents of stray dog attacks and recent reports of rabies deaths have heightened concerns about the stray dog management program in Kerala. As many as 14 rabies deaths have been reported in the state this year, exposing government and local agency apathy.
Notably, despite being vaccinated, a 19-year-old student recently died of rabies in Palakkad. Although the shock has not yet subsided, there were reports of a stray dog biting 11 people in Malappuram and another mutilating a 10-year-old boy in Thiruvananthapuram.
Terrifying characters also appeared in Ernakulam. According to official data, more than 4,000 cases of dog bites were reported in the district in the first four months of the year. Since the High Court of Kerala issued a directive prohibiting Kudumbashree from being entrusted with the management of stray dogs, the ABC (animal birth control) program has come to a screeching halt in most local bodies in the state. As per the court order, only agencies and NGOs registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) should be engaged for the management of stray dogs.
Meanwhile, despite mounting complaints, the government has taken no effective action to eradicate rabies. Animal rights activists blame the authorities’ unscientific approach. “Officials should put aside their egos and engage registered NGOs and animal welfare organizations to carry out ABC programs,” says MN Jayachandran, a former member of the Kerala State Animal Welfare Board.
“The increase in cases of dog attacks and rabies reveals the ineffectiveness of the programs undertaken. Authorities have made sincere efforts to vaccinate dogs in the community for several years.
Jayachandran alleges that the livestock department is unwilling to cooperate with NGOs. “There are registered animal welfare organizations in every district. The government should immediately chain them up. He should also take steps to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the community.
In India, an average of 25,000 people die from rabies every year. In 2021, on World Rabies Day (September 28), the central Ministry of Health launched an ambitious campaign – “National Action Plan for the Elimination of Dog-Mediated Rabies in India by 2030″ – which recommended the rabies vaccination of stray dogs for three consecutive years.
“It is high time for the government of Kerala to come up with a comprehensive action plan; it is clear that intervention at the level of the local body is ineffective,” says an official from the livestock department. “We need a policy at the state level, involving multiple agencies.”
Several NGOs and Kudumbashree approached the Animal Welfare Board of India for accreditation to undertake ABC campaigns. “Recently, we wrote to AWBI to accredit an NGO. The board of directors has not yet responded,” notes the official.