MRTI probe into stray dog control issue
Ten years have passed by since the animal birth control and anti-rabies
programme has been adopted in Pune. Two citizen activists use the
tool of the law on right to know to find out if the programme is
being implemented strictly as per the norms. Whatever information
they received from the Pune Municipal Corporation left them in huge
Pune, March 22, 2005: EXHAUSTIVE guidelines (namely the Animal Birth
Control - Anti-Rabies - ABC/ AR programme) to control stray dog
population and incidence of rabies, were laid down by the Bombay
High Court on a writ petition [WP(C)1596] of 1998), later gazetted
as Central Legislation under the Dog Control Rules, 2001 by the
Union Ministry of Culture, that was to be followed by both civic
bodies and animal welfare organisations. It has been 10 years since
the programme has been implemented in Pune.
Under the Maharashtra Right to Information (MRTI) Act, several related
requisitions for information were made by both of us to the Pune
Municipal Corporation (PMC) from December 2003 to April 2004, seeking
information on the functioning and implementation of the ABC-AR
Programme since it concerns a serious public health issue.
We are giving here a synopsis of the responses to these queries
under the MRTI Act and other information received on request apart
from replies under MRTI.
An average of 7,800 dog bite victims are treated in the Pune Municipal
Corporation's Gadikhana Hospital alone, every year, with the annual
expenditure on providing anti-rabies vaccine having increased from
Rs 1,37,250 in 1994 to Rs 3,99,849 in 2004. Between 1997 and 2002,
205 rabies fatalities were recorded in the Naidu General Hospital.
The PMC does not monitor the number of victims treated in private
hospitals and clinics.
Rule 3 Section (3)says: The street dogs shall be sterilised and
immunised by participation of animal welfare organisations, private
individuals and the local authority.
We demanded under the MRTI copies of MoUs signed between Municipal
Corporation and animal welfare organizations for the implementation
of the ABC-AR Programme.
PMC response (MRTI JMC 418 and 1120): MoU is not executed.
Our query: Year in which PMC started the ABC/AR Programme.
PMC response (MRTI JMC 1389): PMC started to implement the said
programme with effect from April 1995.
Rule 4 says: A monitoring committee shall be constituted by the
Our query: Year in which Dog Committee for the ABC/AR Programme
was formed. PMC response (MRTI JMC 1389): The Committee has been
formed in April 2002.
Rule 5 Section (e) says: Get a survey done of the number of street
dogs by an independent agency.
Our query: Methods used to count stray dogs and yearly population
PMC response (MRTI JMC 657 & 1120): Enumeration of stray dogs
Our query: Name of independent agency appointed to count stray dog
populations and when it was appointed.
PMC response (MRTI JMC 1389): No agency has been appointed by the
Rule 5 Section (f)says: Take such steps for monitoring the dog bite
cases to ascertain the reasons of dog bite, the area where it took
place and whether it was from a stray or a pet dog.
Our query: Whether or not PMC has information of stray dogs (area,
complaint, dog etc) during pick up and release of stray dogs.
PMC response (MRTI JMC 167): The said record is not available with
Our query: Map of municipality showing electoral wards and dog collection
PMC response (MRTI JMC 1120): Health department has not furnished
the map as directed by Bombay High Court.
Rule 7 on capturing/sterilisation/immunisation/release, says: (1)
Capturing of dogs shall be based on:
(a) specific complaints and (b) General.
Our query: Copies of the records maintained on pick up and release
of stray dogs in relation to general and complaint categories.
PMC response (MRTI JMC 1108): This information is related to the
Blue Cross and SPCA.
Rule 7 Section (5) says: While the dogs are being captured in any
locality the representative of the local authority or of the animal
welfare organization accompanying the dog squad will make announcements
on a public address system that dogs are being captured from the
area for the purpose of sterilisation and immunisation and will
be released in the same area after sterilisation and immunisation.
Section (6) says: The (immunized) dogs shall be released at the
same place or locality from where they were captured and the date,
time and place of their release shall be recorded. The representative
of Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs) shall accompany the dog squad
at the time of release also.
Our query: Names of representatives of Blue Cross Society and SPCA
that accompany the municipal dog van during pick up and release
of stray dogs.
PMC response (MRTI JMC/167): Pune Municipal Corporation has three
vans for Dog Squad. Shri Ovhal and Shri Chavan are accompanying
the vans during pick-up and release of stray dogs. [Note that both
people mentioned are employees of the PMC, not AWOs].
Our query: Annual (month-wise) records maintained by representatives
of AWOs during pick-up and release of stray dogs in relation to
number of dogs caught and released per area.
PMC response (MRTI JMC1108): This information is related to the
Blue Cross and SPCA.
Our query: Records of rabies cases in dogs as recorded by the PMC
appointed doctor since inception of the programme.
PMC response (MRTI JMC/167): The said record is not available with
Our query: Number of re-immunizations against rabies conducted month-wise
PMC response (MRTI JMC 1108 & 1120): Operated dogs are marked
and they are not vaccinated again.
From the above responses it is clear that even basic guidelines
have not been followed by the PMC, when over the last decade series
of statistics have been repeatedly bandied about, claiming the success
of the ABC-AR Programme. Records to show that sterilised dogs have
been returned to the area they were picked up from and that any
re-immunisation against rabies has been carried do not exist.
It may not be out of place to mention here that:
The Bombay High Court is suo moto reviewing its own earlier order
passed in 1998 in favour of the ABC-AR Program. The Brihanmumbai
Municipal Corporation has submitted to the Court that even the number
of dogs registered has actually gone up since the ABC Program started;
The Karnataka Lok Ayukta in 2003 strongly criticised the ABC-AR
Programme in Bangalore, stating that it was a waste of public funds;
The Kerala High Court in December 2003 ordered the resumption in
the killing of stray dogs citing the failure of the ABC Programme;
The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court is reviewing the order regarding
the implementation of the ABC Programme in Goa, because it was noted
that all facets of law were not taken into account when the ABC-AR
Programme was allowed.
Under the Maharashtra Right to Information Act the PMC has submitted
that it already spends a minimum of Rs 15 lakh annually on the Programme
and according to the minutes of the Dog Committee meeting, counting
of stray dog population has still not begun.
In the reply under RTI with regard to rabies control, the PMC has
vaguely stated that ''dogs are released and not vaccinated again.''
After innumerable rabies related deaths and bites, ten years post
the begining of the programme and over a crore rupees later, while
openly admitting that it has been unable to effectively implement
the ABC Programme with animal welfare organizations, the PMC plans
to pour in more public funds into this exercise.
Qaneez Sukhrani, 8, Daffodils, 79 Viman Nagar, Pune-14 Meghna Uniyal
11A/203/2A, Rajiv Nagar (S), Viman Nagar, Pune-14
Right to information:
Pune has never stopped dog-killing
I was really shocked
to read here the blatant misrepresentation of our Pune stray
dog scenario by two "citizen activists." Readers unaware
of the true picture would be misled into believing that the Pune
municipality does not kill a single dog, and that they are only sterilized
here. In actual fact, large numbers of stray dogs have
been regularly poisoned in Pune for years
and as this seems to differ from the other cities
dealing with sterilizations, Pune should not be brought
into debates about this issue. The barbaric and illegal practice
of poisoning dogs has continued unchecked through all the years
the sterilization programme has been implemented.
Smt Almitra Patel's
recommendations put up on Karmayog also confirm this. She quotes
a certain Dr Deodhar as saying that "in Pune, the present
practice of discriminate destruction of dogs...should continue."
However, it would be more correctly described as indiscriminate
I suppose such
citizen activists feel that strewing poison around contributes
to a clean and safe environment?
Three questions which
should be added to the EXHAUSTIVE laundry list of things to ask
(1) How many stray dogs
are poisoned every year?
(2) How many of those
dogs were sterilized strays, or pets?
(3) How much of public
money has been spent on killing stray dogs in Pune ?
If there are still stray
dog problems in Pune, in my opinion they should be blamed on dog-killing
and not on sterilizations. In fact sterilizing dogs is certainly
a waste of money and resources if so many dogs are going to get
I wish there was some
way Karmayog could screen messages for veracity before putting
them before an unsuspecting public. Unless people bother to write
and clarify misconceptions, readers will get a very distorted
picture of many issues.
reg RTI Pune: Pune has never stopped dog-killing
Our Right to Information queries with regard to ABC implementation
were answered by the Pune Municipal Corporation and their responses
printed in The Indian Express
under their RTI initiative. Questions
as to the ‘veracity’
of the information should
perhaps be directed to the AWO’s and AWBI, who have for the last
10 years projected Pune as an example of ABC “success”. They have
repeatedly thrown around made up figures of dog populations and
rabies vaccinations, thereby deceiving the public, the govt. and
donor organizations. Now when it has been proved an utter failure,
it is reprehensible to cast aspersions on the citizens themselves
and a little too late for Pune should be left out of the debate.
dogs being killed does not in any way explain the following:
the AWBI has been unaware of the Pune situation for 10 years?
annual inspections has the AWBI conducted with regard to ABC implementation
has no dog ever been re-vaccinated against rabies?
happens to funds for rabies vaccination programs?
do Pune AWO’s have no idea what happened to 17,000 dogs?
have no dog population estimates ever been conducted?
are dogs hot branded (triangular mark) and released before they
have even healed (see attached pictures)?
are the ‘animal lovers’ of Pune doing about this inhumane treatment
of sterilized dogs? Or is cruelty an issue only when it is perpetrated
by someone else?
that people who are apparently so concerned about dogs have never
bothered to find out themselves as to how many dogs the PMC has
killed. Not entirely surprising though, considering that critical
public health issues are referred to as a “laundry list”.