Bangalore dog panic spreads to Hyderabad

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2007:
HYDERABAD–The fear and outrage about dog attacks gripping
Bangalore for more than three months spread to Hyderabad in April
2007, two years after the city administration took over the local
Animal Birth Control program and allegedly used the pretext of
capturing dogs for sterilization as cover for killing dogs in high
volume.
Partly because of that history, the Hyderabad dog panic was
relatively muted. And, as many reporters pointed out, there were
plenty of administrative failings to blame for Hyderabad incidents,
beyond just the dog policies.


The first of the dog attacks that incited Hyderabad came on March 28.
“Eight-month-old baby boy Ritesh was taken to the Dhobighat,”
a tributary of the River Musi, “where his parents washed clothes,”
recounted Radhika Iyer of NDTV. “Residents say the riverside has
virtually become a garbage dump,” due to deficient local trash
collection, “that attracts dogs.”
“The dog was eating garbage, then took away my baby,” said
the victim’s mother. “He was conscious when I found him. He drank
milk. The doctors gave him oxygen, but his heart stopped.”
“The question is,” asked Tejeswi Pratima and Uma Sudhir of
NDTV, “who killed Baby Ritesh, a stray canine or an insensitive
public health system? An official inquiry has now been ordered to
find out why the baby had to be rushed from one hospital to another
and was denied what could have been life-saving treatment.”
Ritesh’s mother Mira took him to four hospitals in four
hours, visiting two of them twice, before Ritesh succumbed to his
wounds. Each hospital referred them to another. Only two of the
hospitals provided any actual help.
Observed Blue Cross of India chair Chinny Krishna, “Once
again,” as with all three of the fatal dog attacks in greater
Bangalore in early 2007, “this happened in a an area without Animal
Birth Control. The Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad two years ago
stopped the successful ABC program carried out by the Blue Cross of
Hyderabad and People for Animals, saying they would do it
themselves. Close to 20,000 dogs were caught in the last two years
and less than 1,500 were fixed, as per municipal records. The Blue
Cross of Hyderabad meanwhile began to do Animal Birth Control in
housing societies, with their usual dedication and great cooperation
from the residents.”
The Blue Cross of Hyderabad, headed by former actress Amala
Akkineni, was formed in emulation of the Blue Cross of India, but
as with other societies using the Blue Cross name, they are not
affiliated.
The next sensational attack came on April 9, when 12 dogs
bit 10 young women who were waiting to take exams at Osmania
University’s Women’s College in Koti.
Chief veterinary officer P. Venkateshwar Reddy sent 30 dog
catchers and two vehicles to the scene, where they captured 21 dogs
and found the remains of two of the alleged biters, who had been
beaten to death by university staff.
More than 100 dogs were removed from the Osmania University
grounds during the next few days, while politicians paraded through
to proclaim their outrage.
Sterilization and vaccination “will not solve the problem,”
fulminated Karnataka State Human Rights Commission chair Justice B.
Subhashan Reddy, pledging to seek changes in the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act to expedite killing dogs.
“There is no way that animal welfare can be superior to human
welfare. When human rights and animal rights are in contention,
human rights will have to take precedence,” asserted Justice Reddy.
But chief veterinary officer Reddy told The Hindu that some
of the women’s dormitory residents “wanted us to give them some
friendly dogs to serve as their guards. That food is given to dogs
inside the college is a well-known fact,” Reddy said.
Osmania University women’s dormitory residents had already
complained before the dog attacks about a lack of clean water, bad
food, and inadequate overnight security.
Yet another dog attack of note came on April 17, when just
one dog bit nine people including five children in an overnight
12-hour rampage through two neighboring apartment blocks in
Trimulgherry, a residential suburb. Locals beat the dog to death
before police belatedly responded.
Hyderabad and nearby Secundarabad, often identified as “twin
cities,” have between them more than 100,000 street dogs plus about
11,000 free-roaming pet dogs, said The Hindu.
Reported dog bites have soared since the municipal
corporation took over the ABC programs, climbing 23% in 2006 alone,
when 53,437 people sought rabies post-exposure vaccination. Human
rabies deaths have increased 68%, from 164 to 241.
Dangerous dog complaints to the municipal corporation
doubled to 40 a day after the Osmania Univer-sity rampage, chief
veterinary officer Reddy told The Hindu, noting that many of the
calls came from beyond the city limits.
“The city did intervene and sent its dog squad to a
1,000-acre defence facility following a distress call,” the day
after the Osmania University attacks, “but it is clear that they do
not have the men, machinery or mandate to tackle the dog menace
throughout greater Hyderabad,” The Hindu said. Hyderabad reportely
has 60 dogcatchers, but only five vehicles outfitted to haul dogs.
“We are already undertaking special drives,” emphasizing
capturing dogs in slum areas, “and our men are putting in extra
hours,” said Reddy.
Ordering staff to capture roving pigs and cattle, as well as
dogs, and to prevent illegal animal slaughter, Reddy “indicated
that his veterinary staff was facing resistance from anti-social
elements and also a few locals,” The Hindu noted. “Therefore, he
sought protection” for his staff, from “at least three armed police
personnel.”
A conflicting report about who was at risk in greater
Hyderabad came from Saroornagar resident Meenu Dastoor, a realtor,
who alleged that dogcatchers killed his pet dog Gowri and were
interrupted in the act of preparing to kill another of his dogs,
Tommy, after the two of them bolted from his house.
Dastoor told media that municipal workers beat him, his
sister, and his brother when they went to the municipal
commissioner’s office to complain about the incident.
Alleged Dastoor, “There were over 50 workers, including
women, and they beat the three of us and locked us in a room.
Finally the police let us out.”
Dastoor said that both his brother and sister suffered fractures.
Saroornagar sanitation inspector K. Koteshwar Rao reportedly
denied that dogcatchers killed Gowri, and claimed that Dastoor
assaulted workers after being told not to litter.
Like Bangalore, Hyderabad turned eventually to “the
Ahmedabad model,” contracting with the Animal Help Foundation to do
mobile Animal Birth Control in outlying areas. A three-month visit
by one of the Animal Help surgical teams is expected to double the
local rate of sterilization surgery to more than 3,000 dogs a month.

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