'Killing of dogs never work': Maneka Gandhi

Animal birth control is the logical and scientific solution to reduce dog population


Interview/ Maneka Gandhi, Lok Sabha MP and chairperson of People for Animals

According to recent data, dog bite incidents have increased in the past three years. You helmed the notification of Animal Birth Control (Rules) 2001. What do you think are the reasons behind the stray dog issue?

There are a number of reasons. First, there is very little money being put into this programme. When we got rid of polio, Rs700 crore was spent every month. The amount being spent for the stray dog issue is nothing in comparison. There is a serious lack of funds. Second, there is no training by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for NGOs. There are several NGOs that are illegal and should have been banned but are still getting the contracts. Plus, the NGOs who are capable of doing good work get meagre amount of money to undertake the process required. Third, the tender system is destroying the programme as there is no transparency. As a result of these factors, sterilisation of dogs is not happening properly, which is one of the main reasons for increasing population of dogs. Fourth, relocation of dogs is being done secretly and inappropriately, which only compounds the problem as new dogs take the place of old dogs.

So, existing rules are not being executed properly?

Absolutely. You cannot blame the programme and say that it is not working if you do not follow the rules. Each person must do his/her job effectively to make this work. There are cases where money has been taken but not even a single dog has been sterilised. Dogs are treated badly at several locations. The infrastructure is in a bad shape across the country. Municipal corporations are giving contracts to NGOs who are not at all equipped to do the task. Apart from Tamil Nadu, no other state has an animal welfare board, which is supposed to monitor the execution. There is absolutely no monitoring. It has been 23 years since the notification of ABC Rules 2001 but hardly anything has happened. Whose fault is this? There is total confusion!

What do you think is the solution?

The simple solution, which is also clear from the ABC Rules, is to sterilise the dogs and put them back at the same place. If you sterilise the dogs and put them back, slowly the population will come down. This is also prescribed by the World Health Organization and has given results in many countries across the world. There is massive confusion over relocation as well. AWBI should make a new list of NGOs that are registered with them and only those NGOs should get the contracts. The tendering process should not be based only on the financials but on technical merit as well. There has to be a monitoring committee for each and every NGO hired by municipal authorities. Action should be taken against illegal NGOs. There should be proper infrastructure―running the programme and sterilising the dogs in toilets, garages, old broken school buildings, etc is not going to work and is unacceptable. The health ministry should be involved more on this issue. Switching the ministry handling the programme may also be considered.

Do you think people are bearing the brunt of poor implementation of the programme?

Yes, they are. Animal birth control is the only logical and scientific answer to reducing the dog population. You have to deal with the problem. Killing of dogs did not work for so many years and it is never going to work. Proper implementation of the programme has to be the solution.