A network created by residents of a neighbourhood in Thiruvanmiyur keeps the canine population in check
Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, some dog lovers of New Beach Road formed a WhatsApp group called ‘ABC dog group’.
“We reached out to various apartment complexes in the area through the New Beach Road Association and some on adjacent streets joined us,” says Balaji Sundararajan, a member of the group and a dog feeder. The group initiated various discussions, including one about the approach currently followed by the Greater Chennai Corporation in administering ABC and how the mechanism can be improved. They sought the help of animal welfare organisations in guiding them through the process.
By bringing new neighbours on board, the group was able to arrive at a clear count of the strays in the area and also got them to volunteer for various roles. Dogs needing vaccination were identified and people pooled in money for the ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme.
“One challenge was getting resident-volunteers to take dogs to the veterinarian for the surgery. It called for a special knack with the dogs. It is about spending a few minutes with the animal on a regular basis and feeding it to get friendly,” says Balaji.
Sterilisation of strays is just one of the roles.
Adopting pups; alerting residents when they see a sick canine; and feeding strays are among the other continuing roles.
Raj Cherubal, a resident of New Beach Road and CEO of Chennai Smart City Limited, points out that the network that has been created makes it possible to nudge Greater Chennai Corporation to revamp its existing dog centres in Chennai. Equally important is the push for a decentralised approach to ABC, which can be achieved through mobile clinics and support from resident welfare associations.
“A decentralised arrangement for vaccinating the strays with the help of the community will reduce the burden on GCC and help it achieve its objective of ensuring animal welfare in the city. This is important as a common complaint from dog lovers is that the GCC does not drop the dogs after sterilisation in the same area from where they had been picked up,” says Raj.
Aishwarya Prem, an animal rescuer who has helped the residents in this exercise, says there is more strength when such animal welfare initiatives are driven by the community.
Aishwarya, who runs Second Chance Animal Trust, points out that when someone is already friends with the dog, it is going to trust them. In contrast, having a dog catcher do the job will add to the dog’s stress level which does not do much for an animal going into surgery.
Dwelling on the advantages of having a decentralised approach, she says it works cheaper out.
“When there are multiple centres in a city, it can avoid spread of diseases and ensures better health of the existing dogs,” says Aishwarya.
She says there are communities in Besant Nagar, RA Puram and a few other areas that have been promoting various dog-friendly programmes. People need to understand that there are various benefits of supporting such initiatives. “There are lesser dog fights in an area and the population is under control,” she says.
With the city expanding, it is not viable for GCC to solely depend on its dog centres and so, the civic body must start establishing clinics in places where they know there are rescuer communities, says Aishwarya.
She adds that such a model has been working well in Jaipur and Chennai probably can pick some lessons from the Pink City.
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