ABC & clandestine captures drive Bangalore street dog population down by half since mid-2006

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:


BANGALORE–A door-to-door canvas of 3.2 million Bangalore
households in mid-June 2007 found just 49,283 dogs– including 17,480
pet dogs, and only 24,491 street dogs, fewer than half the 56,500
estimated to be at large a year earlier.
The plummeting street dog population attested to both the
efficacy of the much-maligned Animal Birth Control programs in
Bangalore, and the undiscriminating tactics of dogcatchers who were
deployed repeatedly in the first half of 2007 to purge dogs.
ANIMAL PEOPLE surveys of dogs in representative Bangalore
neighborhoods found in January 2007 that the ABC programs managed by
Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Karuna, and the Animal Rights
Fund appeared to have sterilized between 70% and 90% of the
free-roaming dog population. But dog pogroms following fatal dog
attacks in January and March 2007 jeopardized the programs’ success
by killing dogs who had already been sterilized.

Officially the killing stopped and ABC resumed in May 2007,
but “Bangalore dogs are still being killed and relocated in big
numbers,” Animal Rights Fund volunteer Poornima Harish told ANIMAL
PEOPLE in late July. “This time it is more lethal, as there is no
local, national or international brouhaha. On paper, the dog
management program in Bangalore is ABC. But the essence of ABC is
that the sterilized dogs should be returned to their places after the
operation. This is not happening. After a dog is operated on, the
same dog is picked up again and never returned. With new dogs
entering each territory and birthing litters, we will never be able
to prove that ABC is a success,” Harish said.
Drivers and dogcatchers caught in the act by ARF volunteers
at first claimed to be working for ARF. Photos documented that most
of the dogs they caught were already sterilized. Bangalore officials
eventually admitted that eight private vans had been hired to
clandestinely capture “diseased” dogs.
After the Deccan Herald columnist “Madhumitha B” in late July
2007 exposed the dogcatching operation, “Joint commissioner B.V.
Kulkarni told this reporter that he has instructed his health
officers to withdraw the private vehicles from city service,” the
columnist wrote. However, “When asked to show a copy of the
official order, the joint commissioner claimed it’s not possible,”
Mahumitha B added. “CUPA honorary secretary Sanober Bharucha said
CUPA had received no notification. Other city officials and the
animal husbandry department claimed to be completely unaware of the
The clandestine dogcatching apparently began soon after the
May 2007 publication of a highly critical performance audit of the
Bangalore ABC programs, by a committee chaired by M.K. Sudarshan of
the Association for the Prevention and Control of Rabies in India.
Skeptical of ABC from the introduction of the approach, APCRI has
worked closely with the anti-ABC organization Stray Dog Free
Aware that Sudarshan has alleged a rabies risk in Bangalore
in recent years even though no cases had occurred in areas served by
ABC, Harish in July 2007 discovered that Sudarshan has been
overstating the number of human rabies deaths in Banglore for at
least 12 years. In 1995, for example, in a publication sponsored
by makers of human post-exposure vaccines, Sudarhan “said there are
70-100 rabies deaths in Bangalore every year,” Harish told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “The rabies deaths figure for that year is 21. I got the
documents from the Isolation Hospital under the Right to Information
Act with the official seal,” Harish said, sending copies of all the
But a four-year-old boy named Ajay died of rabies in
Bangalore on June 4, after suffering a bite in Kurubarahalli, an
outlying suburb. He received three injections of an ineffective
post-exposure vaccine from a “private medical practitioner near his
house,” The Hindu reported. His parents Manjula and Manjunath took
Ajay to a hospital only after the onset of rabies symptoms–and then
the first hospital they visited did not have anti-rabies vaccine in
Killing dogs for population control has been illegal in India
for 10 years, but the federal law is little enforced. Dog attacks
are typically followed by dog massacres, as in Kunnamkulam, Kerala,
where “1,000 or more dogs were killed,” according to local activist
Ramesh Ravindra. As in Bangalore, the dog attacks occurred in the
vicinity of illegal disposal of meat waste, Ravindra said. The dog
purge ended only when the hired dogcatchers were solicited to kill
dogs in another community, Ravindra added.
In at least two cases, at Paramathi near Namakkal in June
and Tambaram near Chennai in July, dogcatchers of the Nariku-rava
tribe produced local opposition to the purges when they reportedly
shot dogs in public places with homemade guns, left wounded dogs to
die, and shot birds as well.
“With U.S. Agency for International Development support and
guidance the Indian NGO ExNoRa [has] helped transform the nomadic
Narikuravas from largely unemployed slum dwellers to organized
‘street beautifiers,’ who earn a living by collecting, composting,
and recycling waste,” USAid Global Environment Center deputy
assistant administrator David F. Hales recently wrote.

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