Kerala orders dog purge

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2007:
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM–Kerala state minister for local
self-government Paloli Mohammed Kutty less than 10 days before the
end of April 2007 “directed the heads of local self-government
institutions to take effective steps to end the stray dog menace
before May,” The Hindu reported on April 22.
The order followed a Kerala High Court ruling that local
governments have the authority to kill dogs to end a perceived threat
to public health and safety, despite the decade-old national policy,
never fully implemented, favoring Animal Birth Control.
Kerala, officially 25% Islam and 19% Christian, also with a
strong Communist party, is among just two states of India where
cattle slaughter is legal, has a large cattle export industry, and
is perhaps the only state where resisting mainstream Hindu cultural
dominance has political currency.
Cattle slaughter and animal sacrifice were already political
flashpoints in Kerala long before the advent of ABC, which soon
became a comparable target.


Political exploitation of cultural divides appeared evident
in the rhetoric on March 30, 2007, as the Thiruvananthapuram
municipal corporation council heatedly rejected a recommendation from
People for Animals founder Maneka Gandhi that the city should back a
four-year-old ABC program conducted by Animal Rights Kerala.
Mrs. Gandhi, who was federal minister for animal welfare
under the Hindu nationalistist Bharatijia Janata party, alleged that
killing dogs is in violation of the federal Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act, a contention soon afterward rejected by the Kerala High
Court.
Mrs. Gandhi “also alleged that a senior Thiruvanathapuram
official was intimidating animal welfare groups opposing the
slaughter,” reported The Hindu, and “demanded that the official in
charge of the program be shifted.”
Continued The Hindu, “Welfare standing committee chairman
Rajendra Das alleged that People for Animals and Animal Rights Kerala
have links with companies manufacturing anti-rabies vaccine.
Poojappura councillor Maheswaran Nair called for sub-jecting their
accounts to audit. Mayor C. Jayan Babu said there was no question of
signing an agreement with ARK, which is facing criminal charges for
assaulting corporation officials,” after founder Avis Lyons on
February 10, 2007 confronted dogcatchers who were impounding
vaccinated and sterilized dogs.
Lyons in September 2006 trained 25 dogcatchers to participate
in a purported Thiruvanathapuram municipal ABC program, but the
program never started.
Instead, the dogcatchers “used all the information we had
given them to go out and kill all the dogs in Thiruvanathapuram and
surrounding areas, including our sterilized dogs,” Lyons alleges.
Paid per dog caught, the catchers subsequently hired
themselves out to catch and kill dogs in other cities, including
Bangalore.
Ironically, vaccinating street dogs to eradicate the rabies
reservoir is much less profitable for vaccine makers than selling
post-exposure vaccine for use in treating humans who are bitten.
Pointed out Compassion Crusaders Trust founder Debasis
Chakrabarti, during a similar debate in Kolkata, “Since it costs
only 25 rupees to vaccinate a stray dog against rabies, compared
with 1,500 rupees to vaccinate a human, it is more advisable for the
sake of humans to spend the money on vaccinating dogs.”

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