To present a rosy picture to Adviser to the Administrator Vijay Kumar Dev ahead of his visits to various sectors, officials of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation are resorting to clearing the area of stray dogs, including the sterilised ones, which has led to run-ins with local residents. MC officials want to give a facelift to the area before Dev’s visit. While cleaning the area and removing encroachments is acceptable, removing all stray dogs from a particular place is violation of the Animal Birth Control Dog Rules, 2001, it is alleged.
The dog-catching squads of the MC can only capture those dogs which have not been sterilised or immunised. After sterilisation, these have to be released at the same place from where they were picked up as dislocation of dogs is not permissible under the law. However, in order to ensure a rosy picture to the adviser, MC dog-catching teams are not do so.
“On Thursday, the dog-catching squad started capturing dogs in Sector 46 early in the morning. They put around 30-40 of them in their vans and took them away as the Adviser was visiting. I and several others complained to the Adviser. The dogs were released in the evening after several residents raised a hue and cry. The next day, the same thing happened in Sector 51,” said Amit Kumar, a Sector 46 resident.
He added, “Untrained catchers are capturing the animals in a inhumane way, which is again against the law. On Thursday, two puppies died after being crushed under vehicles as they were running away after seeing the dog-catching vans.” There are currently three dog-catching vans with the MC dog squad which comprises 10 employees.
Complaints have poured in from several sectors. In their written complaint to Dev, some animal rights activists said, “We have been observing for some time that the dog-catching squad is picking up stray dogs from sectors where the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is scheduled. On February 27, the team started catching sterilised dogs near the dispensary in Sector 29, and they were released only following intervention of residents.
“The reason given by them for picking up healthy dogs was verbal orders from seniors who asked them to clear the areas of dogs wherever the Abhiyan was scheduled.”
Nandini Kakkar, a former SPCA member, said, “MC is notorious for dislocation of dogs. That is the reason not a single sector in the city is puppy-free as the WHO guidelines for sterilising dogs are not followed, even though the ABC programme in the city has been running for last 15 years.”
An MC official, requesting anonymity, admitted that dogs are being illegally caught. “There is a lot of pressure on the concerned officials to clear areas of all stray dogs wherever the Adviser is visiting,” he said. However, M S Kamboj, in-charge of the ABC programme, said, “These allegations are not true. For the last one month, dogs are not being caught because the hospital in Panchkula which was sterilising dogs earlier has stopped doing it.”
However, he admitted that the dog-catching vans were going to areas which were to be visited by the Adviser. “They are going there only to educate people regarding the birth control programme,” he said.