The Kerala High Court has asked local bodies to form monitoring committees for animal birth control (ABC). This directive was given when the court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ashwini Shanker, a founding member of Oneness Charitable Trust, a non-profit organisation that works in the field of rescue and rehabilitation of animals.
The PIL was filed in September after Ashwini and her colleagues were aggrieved by the condition of a dog they’d rescued. The dog had a surgical cut on his scrotum and pus formation. On further enquiry, it was found that the dog had undergone an ABC surgery but the surgeon failed to close the incision properly. This led to complications and affected the health of the dog.
The petition also went on to talk about how the ABC (Dogs) Rules, 2001 details how the ABC process should be carried out and about the trained and qualified personnel who have to be involved in the process.
Here’s what ABC (Dogs) Rules, 2001 states:
A monitoring committee consisting of the following persons shall be constituted by the local authority [for a period of three years], namely—
- Commissioner/Chief of the local authority, who shall be the ex-officio Chairman of the Committee;
- a representative of the Public Health Department of the local authority;
- a representative of the Animal Welfare Department if any of the local authority;
- a veterinary doctor;
- a representative of the district Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA);
- at least two representatives from the Animal Welfare Organisations operating within the said local authority.
- a representative of the people who is a humanitarian or a well-known individual who has experience in animal welfare in the locality.
And the functions of this committee according to the rules are
The Committee constituted under rule 4 shall be responsible for planning and management of the dog control programme in accordance with these rules. The Committee may,—
- issue instructions for catching, transportation, sheltering, sterilisation, vaccination, treatment and release of sterilised vaccinated or treated dogs;
- authorise the veterinary doctor to decide on a case to case basis the need to put to sleep critically ill or fatally injured or rabid dogs in a painless method by using sodium pentathol. Any other method is strictly prohibited;
- create public awareness, solicit co-operation and funding;
- provide guidelines to pet dog owners and commercial breeders from time to time;
- get a survey done of the number of street dogs by an independent agency;
- take such steps for monitoring the dog bite cases to ascertain the reasons for the dog bite, the area where it took place and whether it was from a stray or a pet dog;
- keep a watch on the national and international developments in the field of research pertaining to street dogs’ control and management, development of vaccines and cost-effective methods of sterilisation, vaccination, etc.
The PIL filed by Ashwini Shanker goes on to state how even after 19 years, there are lapses in how these rules are enforced and how a monitoring committee has not been formed this far. The petition states that the local authority has delegated the entire process to workers of the Kudumbashree unit who do not have the expertise required in carrying out the task.
It is in light of these facts that the Kerala High Court passed a directive for the monitoring committees to be formed.