It all began one morning in April 2012, on the benches of Kamala Nehru Park, when a young animal activist gave some of us in DGPS a short talk on street dogs and the most effective way to control their population. Further reading of scientific material on the internet corroborated his words. Since then we have worked towards spreading this one message : Sterilization of street dogs is the ONLY scientific and effective method of reducing their population. Nothing else works – neither mass killing, nor relocation nor mass shelters. In fact, these methods actually make the problem worse in the long run. Studies by the W.H.O. in developing countries have proved this – which is why the Bombay High Court, in the late 1990s banned mass killing of dogs. In 2001, sterilization of stray dogs became the official national policy.
It is important to bear in mind that whatever the methods employed, street dogs will never become extinct. Dogs have evolved over centuries to live as companion animals to man – and the urban conditions of developing countries like India (slums, garbage, street food vending) are especially favourable for rapid proliferation of their numbers. The best we can hope for is to have a reduced and stable population of healthy, vaccinated street dogs which can share human space without conflict.
So, with this in mind, we started the stray dog sterilization program in Prabhag 36 with almost missionary zeal. We conducted a lane by lane stray dog census to identify the places where the packs hung out. We held meetings with every possible person involved in the PMC’s Animal Birth Control Program (ABC) – from the then Additional Commissioner Mr Zurmure and Zonal Medical officer Dr Anjali Sabane to the Vets and the dog catchers.
We began as a group of 3 to 4 volunteers but along the way we met up with animal lovers from other areas who’d been doing similar work on their own for years. Anyone who has ever rescued, treated or sterilized stray dogs knows how relentless it can get – hence working together as a large group was a much needed relief. We now have more than 12 members in our team – four engineering students, a physiotherapist, a psychologist, an optometrist, a software designer, two architects, an economist, a paediatrician, a geologist, a medical intern, a businessman and a schoolteacher. Yes, we are a diverse bunch – but we have come together in common cause to help our gentle street friends.
There are three ways in which we sterilize stray dogs. We conduct mass sterilization drives with the Pune Municipal Corporation dog squad team, where dogs are caught in nets, taken to the Pound to be operated, and released back to their spots in four days. Some dogs are sent by us to be operated at an NGO in Bhugaon called Canine Care and Control, which conducts free spay/neuter surgeries on stray dogs and cats. Some are operated at private clinics at concessional rates by veterinarian surgeons. Post op care for all our dogs (except the ones sent to the Pound) is provided by Balu and his wife Ekta at their place in Undri.
We have now sterilized more than 1000 dogs in the Deccan Gymkhana – Karvenagar – Model colony area, rescued and treated innumerable sick and injured dogs and found loving homes for around 150 stray puppies and abandoned dogs. We also vaccinate around 150 dogs every year against Rabies.
Five years of Stray Dog Management
Catching for sterilisation
Catching for sterilisation