STRAY DOGS AND RABIES
A) The Issue
B) Stray Dog Problem
C) Vaccines and Vaccination
D) Legal Responsibility for Managing Stray Dogs
E) Present Management of Stray Dog Populations
F) Dangers of Animal Birth Control (ABC)
G) Expert Opinions on the Success of ABC Programs
H) Experts’ Problem - Solving Strategies and Suggestions
J) Policy Recommendations
The latest scientific opinion has been assembled and presented here to support the legal provisions in Municipal Acts, as the problem of stray dogs and dog-bites has grown to a gigantic magnitude:
a) India has the highest population of stray dogs in the world, an estimated 19 million. In Bangalore city alone, there are an estimated 200, 000 stray dogs today, an average of about 10 dogs for every kilometer of road length in Bangalore . This closely matches the number of stray dogs one can normally see at night.
b) The BMP and its Mayor claim that there are over 25, 000 dog bites a year in Bangalore Municipal limits alone, and probably another half as many cases (no estimates exist) in the seven City Municipal Councils (CMCs) encircling the BMP.
c) There are numerous incidents of two-wheeler accidents caused by stray dogs annually in BMP limits alone.
d) 80% of all rabies deaths world-wide occur in India, about 30, 000 deaths being reported each year. The actual figure is perhaps four to five times higher, as many cases (e.g. those treated by private doctors, nursing homes or hospitals) go unreported .
e) Annually, there are 50 reported and perhaps 500 unreported or undiagnosed cases of rabies in Bangalore and surroundings, which are invariably fatal and involve 2-7 days of excruciating torture and untreatable pain, in patients fully alert and aware of their impending fate. This is the reason why so few get themselves admitted into the restraining cages at the Govt isolation hospital which is the only institution that accepts them.
f) 42% of dog-bite victims are children
g) 62% of dogs found rabid are less than 1 year old and many are puppies
h) 40% of dogs vaccinated only one time have lost most of their humoral immunity 4-6 months later
i) 6% of dogs found rabid have a reliable rabies vaccine history.
j) Besides rabies, dogs can transmit 50 diseases to humans, ranging from the common roundworm infestations to several chronic diseases and a few rare and fatal diseases like rickettsia which also affect pet dogs.
k) .Bangalore city’s 2 lakh dogs add 70 tons a day of solid waste all over its streets, making street sweeping difficult and disgusting, while exposing both sweepers and passers-by, especially school-going children, to faecal-borne diseases.
l) Noise pollution caused by night fights between packs of dogs is a serious problem especially for senior citizens
m) Slum children who have nowhere to play but in the streets are at serious risk when they play with street pups without being aware of the consequences.
n) Two-wheeler riders, even if they escape dog-bites, suffer considerable trauma and expense after falls caused by avoiding stray dogs, which often result in expensive repairs to both vehicle and rider.
o) Uncontrolled populations of rapidly-breeding stray dogs can reach unbelievably large numbers in a very few years.
p) Stray dogs on runways have forced pilots to take evasive action, causing near-accidents to aircraft and necessitating orders from the Mumbai High Court to IAAI to take all necessary measures to clear airport areas of stray dogs.
B STRAY DOG PROBLEMS
7a), Bangalore and its satellite areas are currently the focus of Karnataka State Govt attempts to make them the IT and Biotech capital of India . To attract foreign investment, the Govt is making efforts to improve infrastructure and amenities by concentrating on highways and flyovers, optic fibre cable and cellular networks. One of the major challenges yet to be addressed is to make these improved roads safe and accident-free by removing garbage and stray dogs.
7b) Dogs that have homes and are looked after properly by human beings are indeed “man’s best friend”. When they are ownerless and starving and survive by foraging on waste, they turn feral, reverting to their wild ways and forming hunting packs at night that regularly attack livestock in the villages around Bangalore where garbage is currently dumped. Within urban areas, their “wild” (feral) ways and hunting instincts are expressed by wandering in packs in the streets and instinctively chasing vehicles and children or joggers and frequently biting them, especially on the face or feet which is their natural way to catch prey. This is a result of the cruelty of allowing hungry ownerless dogs to fight viciously for survival by honing their hunting skills on the nearest available moving objects.
7c) Rag-pickers are most at risk of dog-bites, as they try to drive dogs off garbage heaps in order to look for recyclables. Postmen and couriers also suffer. Every area, every layout, every street and road is infested with stray dogs. Their activities appear to peak during evenings and in the hours of darkness, but even daylight attacks are common: stray dogs attacked a sheep in the Veterinary College itself, and a boy Dhanraj was also savagely attacked by stray dogs by day in Krishnarajapura.
7c) Unfortunately, these biting habits have several adverse effects : physical, psychological, economic and educational, as children and their parents miss days of school and work to get themselves treated. Every two-wheeler accident, every dog-bite, entails trauma and expense not just for the victims but their families too.
7d) The results of dog-bite for those who neglect to vaccinate themselves after a slight wound can be terrifying: the indescribable agony of a rabies death can only be understood by visiting a victim, caged and screaming in pain and spasms in the isolation hospital, or tied to a bed at home to die. Rabies once contracted is invariably 100% fatal, and there is no remedy if anti-rabies vaccines fail to help, as they do in several cases.
7e) 96% of rabies deaths are caused by dog-bites, with 45% of their victims being slum children. Though some other species can transmit rabies too, dogs are the natural carriers of this acute encephalomyelitis virus. As mentioned earlier, 62% of dogs found rabid are less than one year old and many are puppies. It is possible and advisable to immunize pet dogs against rabies by a regular program of annual or biannual vaccinations punctually over the entire lifetime of the dog. Even this does not guarantee immunity: 6% of dogs found rabid have a reliable rabies vaccine history.
7f) Anything short of this long-term immunization does not help: 40% of dogs vaccinated only one time lose most of their immunity 4-6 months later. What is more dangerous is the likelihood that one-time-vaccinated dogs may not die quickly as in nature and remove themselves as a hazard to dog and human populations, but survive to become permanent carriers of the rabies virus. Thus even a bite from an apparently healthy dog can be fatal for humans. This means that NO dog-bite whatever can be ignored, ever. A veterinary professor emphasizes this by advising his students to take immediate anti-rabies treatment “even if they dream they are bitten by a dog”.
C VACCINES and VACCINATION
8a) Pets are often protected, but even the slightest stray-dog bite or scratch puts humans at risk. Vaccination after every such incident is a life-saving precaution, as.some rabies patients do not even recall being bitten at all. There are two types of vaccines for humans available in India . The older Nerve Tissue Vaccine (NTV) or Semple vaccine is made in India at 9 centres, from sheep brains, for which one sheep per patient (1 sheep for 15 doses) receives an injection through a hole drilled in its skull, then suffers with rabies for 4-5 days till its infected brain can be harvested and the carcass incinerated. Thus maintaining 200, 000 stray dogs on Bangalore’s streets with perhaps 72, 000 bites a year and only perhaps 25, 000 persons getting themselves vaccinated, requires the painful, agonizing and needless death of 25, 000 sheep a year. This Semple vaccine causes mild to very severe and even fatal complications, which is why it has been banned by WHO but is still made in India . Only Semple vaccine is supplied in Govt hospitals in Karnataka and costs about Rs 25 per dose for 14 injections (total Rs 350) which have to be taken in the abdomen and are very painful.
8b) In the last decade, improved vaccines called PCEC (Purified Chick Embryo Cell) vaccine or PVRV (Purified Vero Cell Rabies Vaccine) have been developed, which are safe and without side effects. It has to be taken in 5 doses, on Day 0, 3, 7, 14 and 30, each costing Rs 300 (total Rs 1500 per course), so it is too expensive for the common man and unlikely to be available at Government hospitals in Karnataka in the near future, although Kerala has already controlled its dog population and switched to these safe new vaccines and Andhra Pradesh proposes to switch to them shortly also. These vaccines are not readily available everywhere in Karnataka, leading to severe and unnecessary risk to humans that have come in contact with stray dogs.
8c) Treatment to prevent rabies after a dog-bite or a dog-scratch is costly for the common man, yet the four General Insurance Companies (National Insurance Co Ltd, New India Assurance Co Ltd, Oriental Insurance Co Ltd and United India Insurance Co Ltd) do not have any Mediclaim coverage that provides for dog-bite accidents and the necessary cost of anti-rabies vaccinations. United and Oriental do not cover it at all, New India gives its agents discretion to compensate only very severe dog-bites, and National has some circular on the subject not available to all agents. This discourages people from getting themselves vaccinated despite its importance.
8d) For severe bites, an important requirement to prevent rabies is to inject RIGs (Rabies Immuno-Globulins) into the site of the wound. This is especially important for persons whose immune systems are weakened by TB or AIDS. Unfortunately, these life-saving drugs are not at all available in either the BMP or the Govt Hospitals.
8e) To prevent rabies in dogs which contact or are bitten by other dogs, there is a canine vaccine for dogs, which requires a “priming dose” to be given punctually at the age of 9-12 weeks, then another vaccination after a month, a year and annually for at least 5 years or more to give lifelong immunity from both the disease and to prevent a dog from becoming a reservoir of the rabies virus. The correct timing of vaccinations is very important for effective results, which is 94% at best. Even then, 6% of dogs that become rabid have a reliable rabies vaccine history. The vaccine costs Rs 10 per dose for sheep-brain vaccine, now replaced at Bangalore ’s Institute of Veterinary Health and Biologicals (IAH&VB) by a Tissue culture (TC) vaccine which costs Rs 55 per dose in the market, or Rs 330 for the full course, slightly more than the cheapest treatment for humans. This expense is justified if adoption and home shelter for strays is to be encouraged, but totally unjustifiable for releasing imperfectly vaccinated dogs on the streets in violation of Municipal Acts.
8f) It is good that the IAH&VB makes up-to-date vaccines available for dogs, but extraordinarily strange that the State of Karnataka does not value human safety and comfort sufficiently to provide uptodate vaccines for humans to replace the painful Semple vaccine which has so many side-effects as to be banned by WHO.
D LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MANAGING STRAY DOGS
9a) In all Municipal Acts, control of stray dogs is explicitly and emphatically the responsibility of the civic authority. Section 87 of the Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964 (amended 1995) lists the “Obligatory functions of municipal councils. – “It shall be incumbent on every municipal council to make adequate provision by any means or resources which it may lawfully use or take for each of the following matters within the municipal area, namely (p) “arranging for the destruction or the detention and preservation of such dogs within the municipal area as may be dealt with under the law in force relating to police or under Section 222 of this Act” and (q) “providing facilities for anti-rabic treatment and treatment of lepers and mental patients and meeting the expenses of indigent persons undergoing anti-rabic treatment within or outside the municipal limits.”
9b) The said “Section 222 Provision as to dogs”, under sub-section (1) requires every unleased dog to be muzzled. Section 222 (2) requires the Municipality to “take possession of any dog found wandering unmuzzled in any public place and may either detain such dog… or cause it to be destroyed” and u/s 222 (6) “No damage shall be payable in respect of any dog destroyed under this section.”
9c) Similarly, the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976 (KMC Act) under Section 58 lists out the obligatory functions of the Bangalore City Corporation : “It shall be incumbent on the Corporation to make reasonable and adequate provision by any means or measures which it is lawfully competent to use or to take for each of the following matters, namely
“(12) the destruction of birds or animals causing nuisance, or of vermin and confinement or destruction of stray and ownerless dogs.” Also Section 58 (22): “preventing and checking the spread of dangerous diseases.” Dangerous diseases have been defined in Section 2 (8) to mean (a) anthrax, chicken pox, cholera, diphtheria, enteric fever, leprosy, measles, plague, pulmonary tuberculosis, rabies, smallpox, and (b) any other disease notified by the Government under this Act.
9d) The KMC Act further states under “Section 345 Destruction of stray pigs and dogs - If any dogs not taxed under Section 118 or pigs are found straying, the same may be summarily destroyed by any person authorized in that behalf in writing by the Commissioner.”
9e) KMC Act “Section 409 Prohibition against transfer of infected articles” would apply to any dead dogs or parts thereof (e.g. uteruses) removed by persons or NGOs undertaking ABC or dog management, as at least one of them presently just throws their dead dogs over the wall of their compound.
9e) The predecessor of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the Corporation of the City of Bangalore, promulgated bye law No 25 by notification bearing No A1(22) of 1952-53 dated 27.01.1954 regarding prevention of dangerous diseases in animals and prevention of rabies under section 367 (28). The said bye law provides the procedure to be followed by the Municipal Corporation in confining and destroying dogs found roaming in the City. These bye-laws continue to be valid even now.
9f) From the above, it is clear that the Karnataka Municipal CorporatIon Act makes it obligatory on the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the second Respondent herein, to detain or destroy the stray dogs, a statutory obligation which they are presently avoiding or abdicating. The procedure prescribed under bye-law No 25 is to catch and confine the dogs for a period of three days, at the end of which if the dogs are not claimed by the owners, they are to be destroyed.
9g) A similar obligation is cast on the CMC Respondent Nos 3-9 under The Karnataka Municipalities Act.
9h) In addition, the Karnakata Police Act 1963, administered by the first Respondent herein, also makes provision and authorizes the Commissioner of Police of the City and the Superintendents of Police in areas under their respective jurisdiction, to proclaim in consultation with the local Health Officer or other prescribed Office of the Department of Health that any [ownerless or uncollared] dog, found during such period as may have been prescribed in the said notice, wandering in the street or in public places, may be destroyed.
9i) All these provisions were made by the legislature in the interest of the citizens who are entitled to lead a safe and healthy life with dignity and peace. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was also constrained to write to the Pune Municipal Corporation that the corporation was under statutory obligation to destroy all stray and collarless dogs. The NHRC pointed out that “Human life should not be endangered in such a way that the majority of the city’s (Pune’s) population be traumatized in order to make a select few happy”.
9j) The Government of India is similarly seized of the gravity of the problem of stray dogs. They set up the Animal Welfare Board in 1962 under the Prevention of Cruelty Act 1960. The main functions of the Board are, among others, “To take all such steps as the Board may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, whenever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering”. There is voluminous literature available on painless methods of euthanasia for dogs.
9k) While the incidence of rabies is highest in Asia, mostly in India, over 50 countries world-wide are currently free of rabies. “Most of the countries which are now either free of rabies or have low incidence have become so mainly due to elimination of stray dogs and vaccination of pet dogs. Vaccination of stray dogs is unlikely to be effective because of many practical reasons” (National Inst of Mental Health & Neurosciences). Thus it has been recognized worldwide that in cities which lack the natural predators of dogs, such as leopards, it becomes unavoidable for humans to limit stray dog populations.
9 l) WHO in 1998 documented the findings of an “Informal Consultation on a Regional Strategy for Elimination of Rabies” held at Delhi . It found that “64% of rabies victims were due to bites by free roaming dogs”, of which “45% are children less than 14 years of age.” This Strategy Report commented that “The control of rabies rests with the local civic bodies who, because of the inadequate resources and ineffective strategy, have been unable to make a dent in the rabies situation.” Hence the need for Petitioners to seek the help of this Hon’ble Court to make urban local bodies perform their statutory duty effectively in order to protect the safety and lives of their citizens.
E PRESENT MANAGEMENT OF STRAY DOG POPULATIONS
10a) The Final Report of the Task Force on Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka, April 2001 described in para 5.4.7 “Rabies” the following problems:
“Lack of an integrated approach to prevention of animal and human rabies.
Several agencies involved, but not coordinated.
Interference from animal rights people who put obstacles to dog control, but ignore the thousands of sheep being slaughtered for preparing ARV [vaccine].”
10b) Under increasing pressure from animal rights activists, Municipalities, including Bangalore, have progressively abdicated or violated their statutory obligations by involving animal-rights groups who have been granted funds and facilities to take over the Municipalities’ obligatory duties, but without requiring compliance with the relevant laws and without any fiscal accountability or transparency or the civic bodies’ ensuring that the desired results are obtained. The KMC Act Section 58 (12) requires the temporary detention and subsequent destruction of stray oand ownerless dogs. Yet in Bangalore city, three animal-rights groups have been given the use of the city’s three dog-catching vans, plus Rs 69 lakhs grant and land in Koramangala for a shelter, without at the same time insisting that there shall be no release of any captured dogs. In contrast, the city’s budget for vaccination of dog-bite patients and treatment of rabies victims is a mere Rs 15 lakhs a year. There is often unavailability of adequate vaccine at sufficient locations, and no compensation or reimbursement to citizens for the misery and expense caused by the Municipalities’ failure to perform their statutory duties with regard to confinement or destruction of stray dogs and preventing and checking the spread of dangerous diseases.
9c) The population control measures advocated by the animal rights groups is Animal Birth Control, or ABC for short. They advocate the catching, vaccination and sterilisation of both male and female dogs, followed by their release into [hopefully] the same area from which they were caught. The theory is that properly-sterilized dogs will not breed, and that thereby the stray dog population will come down. This has not happened in practice, although ABC has been tried in Bangalore for six years, since 1994.
10d) The main argument put forward by animal rights activists for a total ban on killing of stray dogs is that several decades of this practice has not reduced their “numbers”. This distortion of statistics completely ignores the fact that our urban populations have increased several-fold over the same period, so naturally the population of stray dogs, rats, cockroaches and everything else goes up in proportion to the food and shelter availability in our increasingly dirty cities. The other arguments sometimes put forward by animal-activists in favour of retaining stray dogs on roads, are that they reduce garbage and rat populations and prevent dacoities. Petitioners submit that there are far less damaging ways of accomplishing all these objectives than by putting the entire citizenry at risk of fatal illnesses and physical and psychological trauma and expense.
10e) The animal rights groups have themselves projected a steep decline in
F. DANGERS OF ONLY ANIMAL BIRTH CONTROL or ABC
11a) Some animal rights activists claim that no stray dog need be killed as a sterilization program alone will suffice to control their numbers and by implication to reduce dog-bite incidents and rabies. The ABC program for stray dogs is particularly dangerous because they never catch puppies of 9-12 weeks age (which incidentally are the easiest to catch) which require their “priming dose” vaccination at that correct age. Puppies account for 40% of proven rabid animals. ABC programs give only one vaccination to an adult animal, which is largely ineffective in the absence of the “priming dose” for puppies, as is possible with pets. It is very difficult to re-catch any dogs for annual re-vaccination, let alone punctually for five years in a row, especially since they become extra-wary of dog-catchers after one experience. Also, since the ABC dogs’ ear markings cannot be seen from any distance and do not indicate the dates of vaccination, no scientific program can be ensured. Thus the public is lulled by ABC proponents into a false and potentially fatal belief that since street dogs have been “vaccinated”, they will not transmit rabies. Post-mortems on dogs at Veterinary College Hebbal have found 50% of their autopsies to be positive for rabies.
11b) Sterilisation of dogs results in a “hormonal imbalance. This makes the dog highly irritable … and the tendency to bite and chase increases.” The observed birth of pups to ear-notched bitches supposedly sterilized before release also raises questions of both veracity and efficacy.
11c) Release of captured animals “in the same area from where they were caught” is virtually impossible. The inevitable release of stray dogs to strange neighbourhoods also results in frightened and aggressive behaviour and increased dog-bite cases. It is cruel to throw such dogs at the mercy of new surroundings, and also needlessly cruel to cut and notch the ears of caught-and-released dogs to identify them.
11d) Thus all three components of the ABC program: vaccination, sterilisaton and return to the streets, have serious ill effects exactly the opposite of the intended objectives of reducing dog populations and dog-bites while being kind to dogs. Any civic body that relies only on ABC is putting its entire population at needless risk.
11e) Dogs have no natural predators, so their numbers increase at an unbelievable rate. Even assuming highly reduced numbers, or using the very conservative population figures of the animal rights activists, and their mortality and fertility-control rates, the numbers for projected populations are truly alarming. In contrast, the projections by the animal rights group CUPA for the population decline of stray dog populations in Bangalore using ABC, from 140, 000 dogs in 1994 to just 2, 800 dogs by 1999, quoted in the Proceedings of the 1st National Seminar on Rabies in India are not even remotely achieved. Reports submitted by the ABC proponents for procedures done in Banglaore city show how inadequate these numbers are, let alone any effective monitoring of procedures by BMP by an actual count of uteruses and testicles removed and handed over to them for verification.
11f) The way that these escalating numbers of stray dogs on our streets can be reduced is to capture and then either shelter or eliminate them. There is tremendous simmering resentment among the public about the misuse of funds to release stray dogs once they are caught at considerable expense to tax-payers. There is a feeling that if animal-lovers are so concerned about the stray dogs’ welfare, they should either raise their own funds for providing permanent shelter or arrange for adoption of dogs that have once been caught, itself a very difficult exercise. They feel the general road-using public should not have to bear the brunt of the animal-rights activists’ desire to see strays on the street.
G EXPERT OPINIONS ON THE SUCCESS OF ABC PROGRAMS
12a) Doctors who have to cope helplessly with the agonies of incurable rabies cases day in and day out, came together three years ago to form an Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India (APCRI). The dangers and drawbacks of ABC described above, and its disastrous consequences for the rabies scene in India, have provoked severe criticism of the ABC program because as a result of ABC and strident animal-rights activism, increasingly bordering on eco-terrorism, cities are totally abandoning any judicious destruction of unwanted dogs to save precious human lives.
12b) The President’s message in their first APCRI Newsletter said “Compassion and sympathy for dogs is unquestionable and is dear to every human soul, but unleashing terror by the authorities and the elite by promoting ABC programme and propagating stray dog menace is a clear case of misplaced zeal for dogs at the expense of humans.”
12c) At their just-concluded 3rd National Conference on Rabies on July 6-7 2001, the President’s address mentions that “poor understanding of dog bite management and rabies prevention .. has been further complicated and compounded by the lobby of animal welfare activists and organizations who are thrusting Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme for the large stray dog population in urban municipal areas…. It is important that we come out of this primitive mindset of misplaced sympathy for stray dogs in the guise of animal welfare and at the expense of human welfare and stop this social injustice of aggressively promoting animal birth control programme. The programme is implemented in a poor and unscientific way and is responsible for wastage of public funds.”
12d) These strong views of doctors and scientists closest to the problem have to be juxtaposed against largely undocumented and unsubstantiated claims of success by well-funded animal-rights groups with a vested interest in continuance of ABC. Petitioners seek the good sense and balanced judgment of this Hon’ble Court in accepting the middle path and combined strategies of destruction and sterilization as advocated by so many of the experts cited below.
H EXPERTS’ PROBLEM - SOLVING STRATEGIES AND SUGGESTIONS
13a) The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), under the Union Government’s Directorate of Health Services, reprinted a 1993 paper on Rabies which recommends three important components of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Canine Rabies Control Programme:
“Pre-exposure immunization of pet animals and their compulsory registration
Elimination of stray dogs by humane methods of destruction
Extensive health education to public to procure their cooperation in fulfilling above mentioned components.”
13b) Recently, on 5-9 March 2001 at the Fourth International Symposium on Rabies Control in Asia, (co-sponsored by WHO), a paper was presented by Joy Leney of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, London. It suggested, among other measures like a legislative framework for control of both owned and unowned dogs, appropriate garbage disposal and neutering, that there should be “Government controlled dog collection centers where animals can be assessed; if found suitable for adoption, they can be vaccinated and neutered. It is recommended that diseased, aggressive and surplus dogs should be put down humanely. “ Also, that “in countries where there is a large population of stray dogs and cats, it may be impractical and unreasonable to expect governments to allocate sufficient funding and resources to capture, vaccinate, neuter and release unwanted animals on a wide scale.”
13c) WHO’s Regional Strategy for Elimination of Rabies under (b) Control Activities, says these should involve:
- the animal reservoir (mostly dogs) by paying attention to dog population management (destruction, reproductive control) as well as dog vaccination …
- humans by ensuring pre-exposure treatment of personnel at high risk (dog vaccinators, hospital personnel) and post-exposure treatment of bitten persons.
13d) Dr N S Deodhar, Member of the Independent Commission on Health in India in “A Plan for the control of dog-Bite and Rabies in Pune City” has recommended “Control and reduction of dog population [by] control of habitat and access to food destruction and reproductive control of stray dogs”
He further advises that “Until such time efficacy of reproductive control of dog population is demonstrated in Pune, the present practice of discriminate destruction of dogs with a view to control human rabies infection should continue.”
Under legal and miscellaneous aspects, the same article points out that the Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Maharashtra recommends (a) prophylactic vaccination of pet dogs, (b) elimination of ownerless/stray dogs, and (c) post-bite vaccination to animals bitten by dogs.
13e) The NICD has on August 25th held a conference to finalise new national guidelines for control of dog-bites and rabies.
J POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
It is therefore advisable to:
(a) Make Bangalore and its satellite municipal councils free of stray dogs within a specified time-frame of two years,
(b) Fulfil obligatory duties under the respective Acts for the confinement or destruction of stray and ownerless dogs and for preventing and checking the spread of dangerous diseases.
(c) Consider the views of national experts on the subject and the latest NICD guidelines, and to utilize a judicious combination of destruction, sterilization, and removal of food sources in order to achieve the above objectives,
(d) Refrain from releasing again on city roads any ownerless stray dog caught at the tax-payers’ expense, by encouraging adoption-centres for captured strays at dog-lovers’ expense and destruction of surplus dogs not accepted by them for placement within the statutory three-day period.
(e) Pass bye-laws and regulations requiring responsible ownership of dogs, such as registration of pets and their timely immunization, and a ban on deliberate street-feeding of ownerless strays by those not prepared to give them shelter and keep them off the streets.
(f) Improve garbage management so as to remove all sources of food for stray dogs from the streets, by complying with the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules 2000, by removing all garbage bins and replacing them with door-to-door waste collection and by immediate and direct transfer of garbage into vehicles for secondary transport without its being accessible to stray dogs on the road.
(g) Require animal rights groups conducting ABC to strictly comply with Central, State and City laws, viz. Biomedical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules 1998 for disposal of removed uteruses of neutered bitches; u/s 351 (1) and (2) of KMC Act 1976 to hand over dead dogs on payment to the BMP after taking due precautions u/s 409; u/s 365 (1) and (2) of KMC Act 1976 to get their premises inspected and seek annual licences for their activities, and to protect, u/s 418, all their dog-handlers with preventive treatment against the risk of rabies from dog-bites.
(h) Make Rabies a Notifiable Disease in the State of Karnataka u/s 2 (7) (b) of the Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964 (amended 1995)
(i) Require BMP and the 7 CMCs to regularly inform and educate their residents, especially slum-dwellers, about the dangers of playing with stray puppies and the vital necessity of taking anti-rabies treatment even for minor bites and scratches, especially those involving children.
(j) Require all municipal and Government hospitals to also stock and administer RIGs injections (CF) into deep dog-bites and wounds.
(k) Provide financial compensation for medical expenses to all victims of dog-bite by ownerless stray dogs u/s 87 (q) of the KM Act 1964 and also compensate dog-bite victims for loss of income or school-days if the CMC opts for release of captured strays and avoids destruction to reduce their numbers.
(l) All General Insurance Companies operating in the State of Karnataka should promptly and fully compensate all claims for anti-rabies inoculations for all those who have the good sense to go for preventive treatment even for small dog-bites and scratches from stray and ownerless dogs.
(m) Require owners of pet dogs to keep their dogs leashed in public places and to personally ensure and pay for rabies-preventive vaccinations to anyone bitten or scratched by their pet.
Mrs Almitra H. Patel
Member, Supreme Court Committee for Solid Waste Management