With reference to an incident that happened in Bhandup last week, a non-governmental organisation has alleged that agencies appointed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) were using cruel and improper methods to catch stray dogs for sterilisation. Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has written a letter to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the civic body, asking them to take action against the people, who were indulging in such cruelty.

Resident objects
On June 5, as part of a sterilisation drive under the Animal Birth Control Programme in Bhandup (west), a team was using cable wire graspers to drag some of the strays into a van. One of the residents spotted this and objected to the way they were catching the dogs.

As part of a sterilisation drive that took place in Bhandup (west) on June 5, staffers of a private agency were found using cruel and improper ways to catch stray dogs
As part of a sterilisation drive that took place in Bhandup (west) on June 5, staffers of a private agency were found using cruel and improper ways to catch stray dogs

According to the complaint filed by PAWS, pregnant and small dogs were being caught in a very cruel manner and put into a van bearing BMC's name. The strays were released when the residents objected to their methods. Sources said that one of the dogs was first caught using a net and later dragged into the van with the help of a grasper. This led to injuries on its body and mouth.

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Not trained well
Speaking to mid-day, Sunish Subramanian of PAWS said, "This is nothing but cruelty towards animals. The staffers of the agency involved in the work are not trained properly to catch stray dogs. They have been appointed for the ABC programme in collaboration with AWBI and BMC. But, as the van had BMC's name on it, the citizens got confused."

He further said, "There should be a third party NGO representative in the ABC mentoring committee, apart from the BMC and ABC project representatives. It's very important to keep a check on the project's transparency, as it is funded by the BMC and government agencies. AWBI and the civic body should take necessary action against the agency involved in the matter."

Action will be taken
When contacted, an AWBI official confirmed that they have received a complaint from PWAS. He said, "We will take up the issue with BMC and the agency concerned. Appropriate action will be taken after we get all the details regarding the issue."

Nothing wrong
Deputy executive health officer, Dr Santosh Revenkar, who is also in-charge of the dog sterilisation project said, "There is nothing wrong in catching dogs with the help of iron graspers. The agency appointed for the work must be following the AWBI guidelines."

It's punishable
According to the ABC regulations, strays should be caught in a proper way, and if the rules are not followed, it is a punishable offence under section 38(3) and section 11(1) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Staff crunch
There are a total of six agencies that work under the Animal Birth Control Programme. BMC officials said, the civic body has a shortage of staff and only 12 of the total 24 wards have vans that are used for the purpose.