Kerala: Mass Vaccination Camp for Stray Dogs, Higher Dog Bites Worry Residents
Representational use only.Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The government of Kerala has decided to launch a month-long vaccination drive for stray dogs after a massive jump in dog bites in recent months. The exercise will begin on September 20, aimed at vaccinating around 3 lakh street dogs, in addition to the 9 lakh pet dogs across the state.
The matter of public concern even reached the Supreme Court on September 9, as litigation was filed immediate seeking action on the increasing number of cases. The government has also approached the court seeking permission to kill the rabid dogs creating a ruckus.
In 2022, the number of deaths due to rabies has touched 22, of which five individuals have received the anti-rabies vaccine. The number of dog bites increased to a staggering 1.87 lakh so far in the year compared to 1.37 lakh in 2017. The government has decided to effectively implement the animal birth control (ABC) program to prevent the increase in the number of stray dogs.
The inter-ministerial level meeting also decided to start a campaign with public participation to end the dumping of food waste in public places, which in turn fuels the increase of the stray dog menace.
VACCINATION CAMP FROM SEP 20, PRIORITY FOR HOTSPOTS
A meeting of the officials of the local self-governance (LSG), animal welfare, and health held on September 12 decided to hold a one-month-long vaccination camp for stray dogs. The campaign will be held in block panchayat, municipalities and corporations.
"The primary aim of the government is to eliminate the fear among the public. The LSG department and government of Kerala will carry out the campaign to eliminate such incidents in the near future," said MB Rajesh, the minister for LSG and excise, in a press meet held after the meeting.
Two important decisions were taken during the meeting on carrying out the mass vaccination drive and establishing dog shelters in all the panchayats across the state.
"The intense drive aims to vaccinate an estimated number of 3 lakh stray dogs by training a pool of volunteers with the support of the veterinary department. Further, we have decided to establish shelters in each panchayat for stray dogs to prevent such dog bite events in the future," Rajesh added.
The meeting also decided to request the animal welfare department to procure additional vaccination doses for the campaign. The department has a stock of 6 lakh vaccine doses.
"The meeting also discussed the possibility of oral vaccinations for the stray dogs as the normal method helps in capturing 40% of dogs. The vaccination drives will focus on the hotspots identified by the health department based on the number of dog bites on humans and other animals," the minister said.
The number of dog bites continues to increase, with five incidents being reported on September 13 in Palakkad district alone.
LOCAL BODIES TO LEAD CAMPAIGN
The local bodies in the state will lead the campaign to vaccinate stray dogs at the block level. A meeting of district collectors, district panchayat presidents and officials of animal husbandry and LSG was held on September 13 to decide on the execution plan.
The meeting resolved to constitute a block-level committee to oversee the progress made in vaccination daily and hold review meetings every week. The district-level monitoring committee will decide on the changes required in implementing the programs based on the requirements.
A decision on the effect of reopening the ABCs in different districts was also taken. Two such centres have been opened again in Ernakulam district.
Apart from vaccinating stray dogs, the government has also requested the owners of the pet dogs to vaccinate them and obtain licences for possessing pets. As per the statement of the department of animal husbandry, only 1% of pet dog owners have a licence. The government has called upon pet lovers to register for licences as per the mandate of the high court.
WASTE DISPOSAL AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
The absence of a mechanism to dispose of the food wastes generated in the state has been cited as another reason for the increasing stray dog menace. The department of LSG has decided to initiate a campaign to bring an end to the problem by carrying out a massive outreach program with people’s participation.
“As soon as the monsoon season is over, we will chart out a program to bring an end to the disposal of food waste in public places. We have a strong base of volunteers formed during the flooding and fight against the pandemic. These volunteers will be roped in to carry out this program as well,” the minister said.
A district-level meeting of the owners of hotels and restaurants, marriage halls, auditoriums and meat merchants would be convened before the vaccination campaign starts.
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