Pradeep Nath met with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, who was visiting our city and protested against the killing of street dogs (another 30 dogs right before his visit!). The President said that he would look into the matter.

What follows is a transcript of Pradeep’s letter to the president:

Pradeep meetingA.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Photo courtesy of the Indian Government.

February 13, 2006
To His Excellency, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India

Your Excellency,

We are the Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals.

We started our organization to prevent the sufferings of animals, to create awareness among people about the needs of animals, to promote kindness to animals, to stop animal sacrifices in the name of God, to stop the illegal transportation of animals, to safeguard wildlife, and to protect endangered species. All of these activities are aimed at improving the quality of life in Visakhapatnam.

Our mission is not just to animals. We promote sustainability through an integrated approach. For example, our animal shelter includes working examples of bio-gas production, vermiculture, and organic farming. Our motto is “Human Welfare Through Animal Welfare”.

Another expression of our motto is the Animal Birth Control program. The ABC program seeks to vaccinate and sterilize street dogs in Visakhapatnam. Since 1999, and at the request of the municipality, we have attended to more than 24,000 dogs. Our work has improved the welfare not only of dogs, but of all residents of Visakhapatnam by controlling animal-borne disease and reducing the future population of unwanted dogs.

And yet just this past Friday night (February 10th), in anticipation of your visit to our city, the Visakhapatnam municipality ordered and funded the killing of dogs along the parade route. Thirty dogs were murdered, and of these, 29 had been vaccinated and sterilized by our Animal Birth Control (ABC) program. It troubles us that the animals should be the victims of a VIP visit.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. The municipality has on numerous occasions funded this sort of activity. We should ask ourselves, what is the point in killing dogs? Considered simply from the standpoint of fiscal responsibility, why spend tax money to make a dog safe, and then kill it?

The killing of dogs is illegal, but just as importantly it is not an effective solution. A murdered dog leaves a space, and into that space will soon come another dog; one that will not be vaccinated, has not been sterilized, and is more aggressive. ABC dogs are more docile, disease-free, and will not breed unwanted dogs.

The figures are clear:

  • 20,249 dogs vaccinated and sterilized from 1999 through 2005.
  • 4396 dogs euthanized under Animal Welfare Rules; specified as suspected rabies, violent dogs, and terminally ill.
  • Since 2001, a 75% reduction in the number of pregnant females.
  • Since 2001, an 80% reduction in the number of puppies in the city.
  • Since 2001, a reduction in the number of mothers with puppies of 90%.
  • According to King George Hospital records, new complaints of dog biting have gone from 100 per day to 10 per day
  • Finally, since the VSPCA has taken over the catching of dogs, we have seen a reduction in the number of dog-related complaints from 60 per day to only 2 per day.

The Government of AP, Animal Husbandry Dept, estimates the number of dogs in Visakhapatnam at 16,000. Though exact coverage figures are difficult to obtain, we feel that the ABC program has reached 80% of the Visakhapatnam dogs. By any measure, the ABC program has been a success.

It is thus curious to us that we should receive such poor cooperation from the local Visakhapatnam authorities. In fact, it is partly due to a lack of cooperation that we have trouble evaluating the full extent of the success of the ABC program.

The problem is greater than a simple lack of cooperation, the Visakhapatnam municipality is in violation of:

  1. Dog Rules 2001 framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, New Delhi.
  2. The Memorandum of Understanding Between Visakhapatnam Municipality and VSPCA
  3. The AP High Court Judgment, December 2005
  4. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
  5. Animal Welfare Board of India Rules, Chennai

Dog control is the responsibility of the VSPCA, the municipality has asked us to do this, but we must have the cooperation of the municipality to accomplish this task.

The VSPCA have one of the best programs in all of India; 5 vets on staff, modern facilities, and mobile techniques. We take great pride in the work we are able to do are proud of the resources that are available.

We request your public support and cooperation in our efforts to control the dog population through legal and humane methods.

The ABC program is but one of many VSPCA animal programs. We shelter cattle rescued from illegal transportation and slaughter. Their dung produces gas for cooking and vermicompost for organic cultivation. With these fertilizers, we grow food for our animals. This integration is a highlight of our work, and our shelter is like an Eden. Our programs go beyond domestic animals, we work also with wild animals; rescuing monkeys taken from the wild and later abandoned, and parrots taken by fortune tellers who starve them and break their wings. These animals can be seen by a veterinary doctor, recover their health, and be considered for release. Finally, we work with endangered species such as star tortoises and Olive Ridley sea turtles – dozens of which are now coming every night to nest on the beaches of Visakhapatnam.

Our work extends even beyond animals. We fight for responsible development and conservation of environmentally sensitive areas.

Our work reflects our passion, but it is also an expression of our national identity. Ahimsa is India’s heritage and culture. It is the example to which we aspire.

Vizag is growing – what sort of Vizag will we build? We are not against development, but too often we see development take the path of irresponsibility, lawlessness and cruelty. India is growing. What sort of India will we build? What kind of Indians will we become?

We are grateful to you for hearing us on behalf of the innocent animals. We are hoping for the best possible coordination in the future, and we ask only for those things which are necessary to ensure that humans and animals can live together within the ethical, moral, environmental, and legal frameworks that guide our lives.

Thank you for your consideration,

Pradeep Kumar Nath
President, VSPCA

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