Activists fume at relocation of sterilized dogs

PUNE: Animal activists have alleged that the Society of Pune has rampantly relocated sterilized dogs. The activists have also highlighted several other illegalities in the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme that the NGO is carrying out in parts of the city on behalf of the (PMC).

Activists claim that such practices may increase dog-human conflict. Over the last month or so, animal welfare volunteers have been complaining about newly sterilized dogs being dropped in their areas. The volunteers have said that these dogs weren’t originally present in these areas. “These dogs are being attacked by resident dogs and we fear that the aggression could be misdirected toward humans,” a city-based animal activist, who recently reported the issue to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), said.

Blue Cross officials, however, have refuted the charges.

Animal welfare volunteer Laxita Shahid, who heads sterilization drives in and around Vimannagar, told TOI that a volunteer is a must to oversee the catching of dogs for sterilization, as per ABC rules. “However, the catchers often do not inform volunteers. Blue Cross Society of Pune’s dog catching team recently picked seven dogs from the Air Force station compound in Vimannagar without the presence of any volunteer. On May 24, I got to know that they were releasing the dogs, so I decided to check the situation. At the time, the same Blue Cross catching team told me that they are releasing the dogs outside Air Force area, that is near in Vimannagar,” she said.

Shahid explained that the relocation of dogs has disrupted the entire system. “There were fights between the new dogs and the existing ones. Vimannagar residents have made several complaints to the PMC about the presence of new sterilized dogs in the area. This is happening due to the irresponsible way in which Blue Cross is operating,” she said.

The general manager of the Blue Cross Society of Pune, meanwhile, admitted that at times, catchers tend to catch more dogs than is permitted. “We have taken the catchers to task for this and suggested that they visit different areas two to three times and catch dogs, so that the number of dogs caught at one time is not too high,” he said.

At the same time, the manager denied that dogs are being relocated by the organization. “Dogs are dropped back at the same location they were picked up,” he stated.

A senior animal welfare activist recently wrote to the Blue Cross Society, stating, “In order to make the ABC program effective and see some significant difference, we all need to ensure the rules and guidelines set by the AWBI are adhered to. Daily, volunteers address numerous human-animal conflicts, relocation being the topmost on the list. The Blue Cross Society Pune needs to take cognisance of the incidents and ensure that they do not repeat this in future.”

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