TNN, Apr 27, 2011, 04.03am IST
CHENNAI: Veterinarians in the city may well have been triggering a controversy during the World Veterinarian Day celebrations on Monday when they suggested culling as a measure to control the dog population in the city.
"Dog population in the country has doubled from 25 million in 1996 to 50 million in 2002. In India, rabies is caused only by dogs. Dog culling must be taken up in addition to the birth control programme," said Dr S Prathaban, director of clinics at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
Expressing concern over the growing dog population and the continuing prevalence of rabies in spite of vaccination and the animal birth control - anti-rabies programme, Dr S Prathaban said that the next census would not reflect a different picture because the measures taken to control the population haven't changed.
He said the work by NGOs make a difference, but it is not enough. Depending only on vaccination would not do. The university sells anti-rabies vaccines for about Rs 7 lakh annually, at a subsidised rate. Still rabies could not be eradicated. TOI has reported that in 2011 till date 15 people have died of rabies in the city. In 2010, 12 people and in 2009 13 died of rabies in the city.
Dr Prathaban said that between 2010 and 2011 the university had kept 33 dogs under observation for rabies. "We found that 17 of them were rabid, including 13 from north Chennai, three from south Chennai and one from Arakkonam. Two were captured from Mount Road," Dr Prathaban said.
But those associated with the animal birth control programme do not agree that culling could be a solution. Animal Welfare Board vice-chairman S Chinny Krishna said there was a perceived reduction in the number of puppies on streets. "The results of the birth control programme are not something that can be seen overnight. We need to cross the 70% threshold for results of the vaccination and the birth control campaign to show.
We need to intensify the campaign to achieve 70% success when there will be no 0% population growth. We cannot have a negative growth unless we start killing the animals, but killing is illegal. Instead we can ensure 85% success," Dr Krishna said.
Corporation health officer Dr P Kuganantham said it was also the responsibility of the public to ensure proper solid waste disposal so that strays don't feed on it.