IN Goa and in the rest of the country, the menace posed by stray animals is going out of hand. The problem has been compounded by religious beliefs and the lack of a proper waste management system. In several states, cows are fed with reverence, which pushes up population of healthy stray cattle. These animals are seen squatting on streets and blocking roads and traffic almost 24×7. Also, in the absence of a proper waste management system, the number of stray dogs, cats and cattle are on the rise in India. According to the 19th livestock census conducted across the country by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Animal Husbandry, dairying and fisheries, there are about 23,508 stray dogs and cattle roaming freely in Goa. The 2012 census showed 16,325 stray dogs and 7,183 stray cattle in the state and the number of all strays must have gone up to 35,000 now, given the 10 per cent increase annually.
The stray cows inconvenience motorists and joggers, but the packs of stray dogs which hold sway on their territory are a threat to the lives of people. These ferocious beasts are extremely proactive after sunset. The director of animal husbandry and veterinary services says stray cattle are taken off regularly from the streets for smooth flow of traffic. Over 1,000 cattle had been captured by the Corporation of the City of Panaji since 2013 under the ‘Goa stray cattle management scheme’ and transported to Kalay fodder farm in Sanguem. But the operations have come to a standstill. A “helpless” CCP said the operations have been stopped since June, this year, due to paucity of funds. During the last two fiscal, the CCP received Rs 42.45 lakh from the animal husbandry department.
Stray menace is not endemic to Goa or for that matter India only. Several countries have adopted various measures to deal with the problem. Many stray animals from India, China and Greece are brought to Canada to be rehabilitated thanks to a plethora of NGOs. The police in Romania even train the stray dogs to conduct road safety lessons. American actor Mickey Rourke some time back had pledged $250,000 and planned to raise another $200,000. Creating awareness among the masses can play a vital role in tackling this problem. In some parts of the US, demand for dogs has peaked more than the supply. Bolstered by strong advertising campaigns for rescued dogs, many are eager to adopt dogs with behavioural and medical problems. Americans are today queuing up to pay huge sums of money to adopt invalid dogs. Dog lovers’ organizations are flooded with requests to get dogs from other countries.
Tackling stray menace can’t be left to government alone. It is a problem that has to be jointly tackled by the civil society, NGOs and the government. Forming committees and then winding up the same due to fund crunch will not solve any problem. Intense campaigning like in the West has to be adopted and celebrities have to be roped in to create awareness. Also, the government should take care of the waste management and that will take care of the problem to a major extent.