Animal welfare NGOs kept waiting for funds from city

Work to neuter street dogs and inoculate them against rabies ‘being hampered by bureaucratic delays, municipal penny-pinching

By Shubhankar Chakravorty

BANGALORE (Sept. 22)—Animal welfare NGOs are having to rely on public donations to fund thier work neutering stray dogs and inoculating them against rabies.

The Karuna Animal Welfare Association of Karnataka has not received funds from the city corporation for the last four months. A similar situation is faced by Animal Rights Fund, whose project manager, Mr. Pramod, told the SoftCopy that public funds worth Rs. 4 million allocated for it have not been cleared by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike for several months.

The BBMP is releasing funds for the animal welfare NGOs slowly and apparently grudgingly, forcing them to fall back on public donations to fund their work. Karuna, for instance, received two months’ worth of funds at the beginning of this month after a delay of four months.

The NGOs are tasked with performing animal birth control (ABC) and anti-rabies vaccinations (ARV) on street dogs on behalf of the BBMP, which makes it all the harder to understand the corporation’s negligence and its seeming apathy toward the duties set out in the Central government’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

‘When funds dry up, strays proliferate’

N. Sudheer Kumar, secretary at Karuna, expressed concern about the BBMP’s lack of understanding of the importance of the work carried out by the animal welfare NGOs.

“It has either been public agitation or political interest that has moved the BBMP into action [and prompted it to unblock the funds],” he said. “It is these instances, when ABC fails to show results as the blockage of fund affects the [neutering] drives resulting in instant and steady growth in [the stray dog] population.”

Sunaina Mullick, media coordinator at ARF, expressed a lack of surprise at how slowly bureaucratic gears turn.“Governmental mechanisms and the bureaucracy always cause hindrances in work,” she said.

The BBMP contracts NGOs to carry out the ABC and ARV drives by inviting tenders, with the work going to the lowest bidder. Kumar and Mullick both expressed concern about this system, which they said is open to corruption.

Besides performing the ABC and ARV work, the city’s animal welfare NGOs also manage dog health care, rehabilitation and adoption programs, with such work paid for entirely from individual and corporate and organizational donations. The squeeze on public funds affects all the work they do.

A resident of Malleswaram in Bangalore, Mrs. Aarti, who spoke to The SoftCopy outside a veterinary college hospital at Hebbal, told The SoftCopy, “My elder son was bitten by a street dog  five months back, and my pet Labrador was bitten by one last week.”

BBMP plans gender-specific neutering, anti-rabies programs

Besides delaying the funds to the city’s animal welfare NGOs, the BBMP is cutting corners by making the ABC and ARV programs gender specific against the policies laid down by the governmental Animal Welfare Board of India. The corporation proposes that ABC be carried out only on female dogs and ARV only on male dogs.

Mullick rubbished the plan, calling it “unscientific.” But a BBMP official who preferred not to be named said, “The decision strikes a nice balance since after all, it is the female dogs that give birth, and it is the males that are more aggressive by nature.”

Asked why the animal welfare NGOs have to wait so long for public funds to be released to them. the BBMP official said: “Government duties are procedure- and step-bound and that takes time. The BBMP is dedicated to the [ABC and ARV] cause.”

Mr. Ramachandra of the state government’s Animal Husbandry Department said: “The issues with street dogs are entirely dealt with by the BBMP at the state veterinary hospitals. All the concerned decisions are taken by the BBMP only.”

He was unaware that the NGOs are charged with carrying out the ABC and ARV work.

(Published in The SoftCopy)

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