Sanitation role of Indian street dogs quantified

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  September 2012:

NEW DELHI-The Supreme Court of India on September 3, 2012 weighed the ecological and public health role of street animals in a case brought by the nonprofit organization Safai Karmachari Andolan on behalf of the poorest of the poor.

Describing itself as “a national movement committed to the total eradication of manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of all scavengers for dignified occupations,”  Safai Karmachari Andolan extracted data from the 2011 national census to show that of 2.6 million public dry latrines still in use in India, 1.3 million discharge illegally into open drains, 794,000 are cleaned manually by humans, and 497,000 are cleaned entirely by animals– mostly dogs and pigs.

The present Indian government has pledged to prohibit manual latrine-cleaning, and to expedite the elimination of dry latrines and resultant pollution.

Major General R.M. Kharb, chairing the Animal Welfare Board of India, told The Hindu that the Indian street dog population has increased to about 25 million.  Federally subsidized Animal Birth Control programs sterilize and vaccinate about 150,000 dogs per year, Kharb said.  The federal Ministry of Environment & Forests agreed in 2007 to fund ABC work in 50 cities, Kharb said, but the money was not fully allocated.

The number of active animal welfare organizations in India has increased from a few hundred when the AWBI adopted ABC as a national strategy in 1997, to 2,798 today, Kharb added.  Mentioning that the AWBI and Worldwide Veterinary Services have escalated the training of competent ABC surgeons, Kharb pleaded for adequate federal funding and corporate donations to enable animal welfare societies to practice ABC and anti-rabies vaccination at peak capacity.

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