No decision to cull stray dogs, says Kerala Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: Describing as 'baseless' allegations by animal activists that the state government had decided to cull all stray dogs, Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar today said only the rabid dogs which pose danger to people would be eliminated.

"The allegations are baseless; the government has decided to kill only rabid and dangerous stray dogs because of the dangers they have posed to people, particularly to children, over the past few months," he said in a statement here.

Rebutting the allegation, following agitations in various parts of the country over the issue, he said the "Worldwide Boycott Kerala Movement 2015" on the social media was based on 'misinformation'.

In the past couple of weeks, the Kerala government and its tourism sector have faced a backlash through social networking mediums over the stray dog issue in the state, with a group of animal activists and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) launching an online campaign calling for boycott of Kerala.

The campaign, which was also conducted in metros like Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru, requests people to not select Kerala as their tourist destination till the government rescinds its decision to kill stray dogs.

"There is no decision to kill all dogs, as mentioned in the online petition," the Minister said.

In fact, the '#Visit Kerala¿ campaign, initially started by the tourism department to market the state, has been taken up passionately by local people in response to the allegations.

"The government has decided to implement an Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme at veterinary hospitals," he said.

It has been decided to start sterilisation in 50 veterinary hospitals with primary facilities across the state, and to implement anti-rabies immunisation in all veterinary hospitals.

State Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao said :"I do not believe that the online campaign will affect Kerala¿s tourism. The state registers a steady growth in the domestic and international tourist arrivals annually."

"Kerala is an animal-friendly and pet-loving state. We will soon implement measures for the registration of pet dogs through local self-governing bodies," he said.

He also pointed out that the state's "sensitive" treatment of rabid and stray dogs would make Kerala a more tourism-friendly and safer place.

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