October 18, 2021 4:31:16 pm
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian visited the IIT-Madras campus on Sunday, after reports surfaced that several stray dogs housed in the dog shelter located at the campus died in the last one year.
Talking to media persons, Subramanian said that 56 stray dogs have died at the IIT campus in the past year. The minister added, “There were 188 dogs at the shelter house as per October 2020 data. The IIT management had constituted a committee to monitor the dogs. Nine full-time workers were deployed to care for the dogs, and the latter were kept inside two confined areas spread over 10,600 square feet.”
Subramanian said that 29 dogs were given up for adoption, 14 were let out as they were not aggressive and two had escaped. He said the remaining 87 dogs were being taken care of by the institute management.
He said the management told him that the dogs died due to illness and other old-age issues as many were more than nine years old.
Subramanian added that the IIT-M authorities claimed that 55 deer had died at the campus owing to dog attacks since 2018, and so the dogs were being kept inside the shelter to protect the deer population.
The minister said the management told him that 38 deer died at the campus in 2019 and 28 in 2020, whereas only three deer have died this year. “I have informed them that the lives of both dogs and deer are equally important and both should be taken care of,” he said. Subramanian added that the IIT-M authorities have told him that they will adhere to the guidelines and keep the Chennai Corporation informed about any future development related to the issue.
Activists raise concern, demand transparency
On October 15, a Bengaluru-based animal activist, KB Harish, registered a complaint with the city police commissioner against the registrar of IIT, Dr Jane Prasad, and the management. In his complaint, Harish blamed the registrar and the management for ‘illegally capturing’ 186 healthy stray dogs and keeping them in cages since October 2020. He said all the dogs were extremely healthy, young and a majority of them were sterilised as per ABC rules, 2001 before the ‘illegal’ capture by the management.
He added that 45 dogs died because the management did not provide them with a balanced diet and water, and owing to the constant fear and mental trauma they suffered from being kept in cages. He asked the cops to book IIT-M authorities under Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC and also under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Arun Prasanna, the founder of People for Cattle in India (PFCI), who filed a PIL in the Madras High Court in connection with the case in 2020, said the IIT management is trying to cover up the deaths of dogs by peddling various theories. “A stray dog lives up to 14-15 years and this claim of dogs dying due to old age of eight or nine is not true. Secondly, a green tribunal order in 2020 had asked the IIT management to prevent deer deaths. So, the IIT management formed a committee and came to a decision that dogs were responsible for the deaths of deer. The committee, however, did not include anyone associated with animal welfare. It did not even have any proof to back its claim of dogs being responsible for deer deaths, other than some manipulated pictures of dogs near the carcass of deer. Dogs feed on dead animals, they do not hunt like other wild animals. The chance of deer getting killed by dogs is minimal,” he said.
Arun also said the number of dog deaths claimed by the management was way less than the actual figure. He claimed the management did not conduct any post-mortem of the dogs except on one ahead of the minister’s visit.
The animal activist also raised suspicion on the number of dogs that the management claimed to have given up for adoption.
“I have been an animal activist for the past 10 years. People tend to adopt cute puppies, but getting them to adopt stray dogs is a challenging task. Twenty-nine is a big number and they also said that 14 dogs were let out as they were not aggressive. I was in the campus when the minister inspected the dog cell for about two hours and we could not find even a single dog roaming in the campus. We are going to file a petition in the court demanding the release of the remaining 87 dogs and seeking greater transparency from the management,” he added.
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