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Stringent Rules: Kochi MC to launch Responsible Dog Ownership Programme

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Posted on February 26, 2015: If news stories emerging from most crowded metropolitan cities are to be believed, dog bites and rabies are a common, every-other-week sort of occurrences in India. In Ludhiana, some Congress workers reportedly thought it would be a good idea to round up stray dogs from parks and streets of the city and release them near the MC office. The objective, obscure as it may be, was to protest the increasing number of dog bites in the city, despite a Rs 2.5 crore dog sterilisation programme underway.

Apparently, in June last year, the number of dog bite cases in Kochi stood at 273. “What we need is an effective waste management plan, merely sterilizing animals alone won't help matters,” the corporation’s veterinary surgeon Dr Kishore Kumar KJ told TOI at the time.

It might not be exactly what he wished for, but the Kochi Municipal Corporation has come up with a management plan to regulate pet ownership and the number of pet dogs being abandoned in the city. As it turns out, of the 2,059 dog bite cases reported in the city in the first six months, 75% were caused by pet dogs, reported the Times of India on February 24, 2016.

The Plan

Set to begin with a microchipping drive, set for the end of this month, the programme also includes a pet licensing drive and awareness campaigns about the rules and obligations of pet ownership in Kochi. "We want to encourage all dog owners to follow the rules. The programme will give owners maximum freedom, but stringent action will be taken if they don't take care of their pets,” a corporation officer told the national daily, “The pet dog microchip implantation project to be launched this month-end is actually a part of the ownership programme, an initiative that has been widely carried out and succeeded in developed countries. While the microchip project will give us an exact picture of the total number of pet dogs in our corporation limits, other guidelines will ensure the health, cleanliness and safety of both pets and owners.”

The Process

The MC is ready with 500 chips for this pilot phase of the pet dog microchip drive. The microchip will carry the ownership and vaccination records of the dog. Owners will have to fork out Rs 100 for a pet license while breeders will be charged Rs 500 for a breeding license.

“We will introduce this initially along with the vaccination process and make it compulsory later. All veterinary doctors will reach out to owners to document their pets. Domesticated dogs are being abandoned and we hope to curb this problem,” deputy mayor T J Vinod told TOI earlier this month, while Dr Kishore added, “If there's no licence, then the owner will be given a form and he will have to furnish his home address and proof of residence. Based on this information, the software will generate a number which will be encoded in the chip. When a breeding licence is given, we will also know the number of dogs, vaccination status and sterilized ones.”

The Penalties

As part of the programme, dog parents in the city could face penalties if their dogs cause a public nuisance by barking incessantly, charge or rush another person, chase people; and for abandoning their pets.

The Results

The Microchipping Drive reportedly cost the local government Rs 400,000 to plan and implement. The KMC claims that the plan will help create a responsible pet parenting attitude in the city, curb the number of dogs being abandoned and also aid the stray dog sterilisation drive. While the idea would be very well-suited to creating a sense of organisation in pet ownership, what remains to be seen is if the pet parents of Kochi comply…

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