Home / News / India /  It's Men vs Dogs in Kerala as incidents of dogs bite and culling go up

Kerala is reeling under a new kind of problem these days. The incidents of dog bites and consequently, the brutal culling of the animal have reversed the famous English phrase- "Men's best friend" used in the context of dogs.

Recently, a video from Kerala's Kottayam district went viral where a dog accused of attacking people was beaten to death and then publicly strung up in the wake of a spate of vicious attacks on humans, including children, in the state.

It is not the only incident as more than a dozen stray dogs were found dead allegedly due to poisoning in some areas of the southern state.

While these actions appear inhumane, some believe that in the prevailing situation in the state, which is seeing a rise in attacks by dogs, the public cannot be faulted for taking matters into their own hands.

Kozhikode Mayor Beena Philip, who had opposed the mass killings of the strays, was forced to change her stand later in view of the prevailing situation in the state. She said people cannot be blamed for what they do. "When our own children are attacked by dogs in this manner, if people react in this manner, they cannot be blamed. I am not in favour of killing dogs nor would I justify it. But in the prevailing situation, I cannot blame the people either," she told a TV channel.

She said if there were not so many dog bite cases, maybe a more humane approach could have been considered. However, last year, when dog bites were not so much in the news, a dog was brutally beaten to death at Adimalathura beach in Thiruvananthapuram and hundreds of canines were reportedly poisoned to death in Thrikkakara Municipality of Ernakulam.

The Kerala High Court had then intervened to issue a slew of directions for proper implementation of Animal Birth Control (ABC) measures and vaccination of dogs. Despite that, it had to intervene this time as well to remind the state of its obligation to protect the citizens and to caution the general public against taking the law into its hands.

Government's efforts:

Amid mounting criticism of the government's inability to control the canine population or instill confidence regarding the efficacy of the anti-rabies vaccine, the state government and its various authorities have initiated steps to address the menace on a war footing.

The Kerala government has initiated a state-wide mass vaccination campaign from September 20 to October 20 for vaccinating stray and pet dogs and opening more Animal Birth Control centres.

The killing of rabid dogs was not permitted as according to the Animal Welfare Board of India guidelines, they are to be tied up and kept in isolation till they die on their own within 10 days of showing clinical signs of the disease.

Various districts are also taking measures, like the Ernakulam district administration's pilot project of sterilization of canines in two blocks, to deal with the dog bite menace.

Dogs vaccination:

Voluntary organisations are carrying out vaccination drives for stray dogs in Kochi city at night presently and despite our expertise, we can catch and vaccinate only 10-12 canines each day after several hours of running around.

There is fear among the public regarding dogs, especially strays, a fear that they might die of rabies if they are bitten. A reason for that is the deaths of some persons due to rabies despite receiving a full course of vaccine.

"So when they see a dog on the street, they become afraid and in that frame of mind, they might hurl a stone at it or try to chase it away with a stick which in turn might prompt the canine to retaliate," Ambili Purackal, who started Daya Animal Welfare Organisation said.

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