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Not enough money, some agencies ‘not serious’, in it ‘only for money’

And at least one former representative of one of these four agencies also claimed that some of the agencies chosen to do this work were “not serious” about their job and were in it “only for money”.

Four agencies were awarded contract last year for sterilising stray dogs. (Express photo)

The agencies entrusted with the task of sterilising dogs in the city blame their ineffectiveness in controlling the stray dog population on two things — lack of enough money, and the irregular implementation of the programme by the civic authority.

And at least one former representative of one of these four agencies also claimed that some of the agencies chosen to do this work were “not serious” about their job and were in it “only for money”.

The four agencies that were awarded the contract last year for sterilising stray dogs were Animal Welfare Association of Navi Mumbai, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Nanded, and city-based groups People for Animals and Blue Cross Society of Pune.

In the past, Kolhapur-based Society for Animal Protection, Latur-based Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Bangalore-based Animal Ride Fund and Animal Protection Club of Karad have also been given this job.

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“The city faces an increase in the population of stray dogs due to the delay in continuation of sterilisation programme, which ends in March every year. There is a delay in the appointment of the agencies for the next financial year for sterilisation of the dogs due to long tender process,” Ajit Shinde of Blue Cross Society said.

He was referring to the fact that while the contracts awarded every year expire in March, new contracts are not finalised until the end of August. Last year, the contracts were given in August and this year these are yet to be finalised. Currently, only two of the four agencies, Blue Cross Society and Animal Welfare Association of Navi Mumbai, are implementing the programme at the request of PMC, which says it would finalise the contracts for this year in a week or two.

“The agencies carry out sterilisation of dogs as per the funds made available to them. The three-four month time gap, when little or no sterilisation happens, negates the whole programme because each female dog gives birth to five-six puppies at a time,” Shinde said.

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He said the PMC should aim to allocate enough resources and set up infrastructure to sterilise at least 40,000 dogs in a year. “The average expenditure for sterilisation of a dog costs Rs 800, but PMC pays us much less,” he said.

PMC says it now pays Rs 655 for every dog sterilisation. Earlier, it used to pay Rs 490 per dog.

The agencies, however, say even the increased rate is far from adequate as expenditures for maintenance of vehicles, payments to staff and other overheads had increased. They are asking for at least Rs 850 per dog. The PMC does plan to increase the rates from this year.

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“The PMC has been offering very low rates compared to the actual cost of dog sterilisation. It is unaffordable for any agency, unless it manages to get donations from outside,” said Vijay Lad of SPCA Nanded, another of the agencies which had got the contract last year.

But even this inadequate money apparently is enough to attract “non-serious” organisations to this work. Manoj Oswal, a known animal activist who once used to work for People for Animals, said the main reason for the uncontrolled rise in stray dogs was that neither the civic administration nor the agencies were serious about the job.

“The PMC appoints the agencies but does not provide sufficient funds for undertaking a mass sterilisation programme. Some agencies, while bidding for the contract, quote impracticably low rates just to win the bids. It is not possible to do any quality work at those rates, and it, not surprisingly, gives rise to corruption. I know of a few contractors who register themselves as NGOs just to participate in the tender process,” Oswal said, without naming anyone.

“Most of the agencies presently involved in the sterilisation programme of PMC are there only for making profit. The numbers of sterilisations are inflated to claim funds from PMC. There is no sincerity in work,” Oswal alleged.

He claimed that a few charitable trusts, like 3C (Canine Control and Care), were already working on their own towards animal welfare, and carry out dog vaccination on their own. (Oswal is not associated with 3C). “These trusts are dedicated towards animal protection and reducing man-animal conflict. But they have stayed away from the PMC programme,” he said.

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Parag Yedur of Animal Welfare Association of Navi Mumbai said the PMC needed to improve its infrastructure. “The number of dog pounds have to be increased to increase the kennel capacity. The PMC should understand that the agencies would require more manpower and facilities for increasing the rate of sterilisation, so the expenditure (from PMC) also needs to be increased,” he said.

Lad of SPCA also mentioned about the difficulties arising from the “activism” of “dog-lovers”. “There are lot of objections raised by the dog lovers making it difficult for the agency to continue with the sterilisation service. They raise objections in catching dogs and also to the operative procedure and post-operative care,” he said.

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The SPCA has decided to discontinue this work in the city due to this “bad experience”, he said.

He said the decision of the PMC to henceforth appoint two different sets of agencies, one for catching the dogs and vaccinating them and putting identification marks on them, and the other for sterilising them, was a good step and would increase the accountability of the agencies.

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From this year, the PMC is offering Rs 838 per dog for catching, vaccinating and putting identification marks, and Rs 600 per dog for the sterilisation process.

First published on: 07-08-2018 at 06:23:25 am
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