Animal rights activists protesting against Kerala Government in New Delhi (Bismillah Geelani/Asia Calling)

Animals rights group in India are boycotting Kerala Tourism over the killing of stray dogs by the government. The government in the southern state of Kerala has been killing dogs after lots of people have been bitten by dogs.

One if the victims is Seetha. Last month, she was working in her backyard when a stray dog entered her house and attacked her 9-month old grandson, Abin.

“Suddenly I had him cry loudly and I immediately came back. It was a horrifying scene in the room. The dog had Abins upper arm in his jaws and he was pulling him out,” she told Asia Calling journalist, Bismillah Geelani.

“The child was bleeding profusely and crying. I shouted and threw things on him and somehow managed to make him leave the house,” she added.

Abin is still taking medicines and the wound has not yet completely healed.

Another citizen, Meena Antony, works at a travel agency. She was on her way to home at the end of a working day when a bunch of ferocious dogs came at her.

“I was just a minute away to reach home and I was surrounded by 5-6 dogs from all the sides, one dog bit my scarf and ran away another one came and bit my toe and I found it very difficult to wriggle out my toe from the dog’s mouth,” she said.

After a month of treatment Meena is now well, but the bite left a deep scar.

More than 80,000 people have suffered dog bites in Kerala state since the beginning of this year---prompting the government to launch a culling operation.

“We have come across cases where a single dog has bitten thirty times. So the menace has to be dealt with firmly in order to protect the general public,” explained U R Babu, Chairman of the Municipal Council.

The government insists that they are killing potentially dangerous dogs that are suspected to have rabies.

In other cases they are sterilizing dogs under the Animal Birth Control Program recommended by the World Health Organization.

The government has also announced cash rewards for people helping capture rabid dogs.

Animal rights activists like Jaisimha says this has led to hunt.

“When you end up saying that I will give you X amount of money to kill a dog if it is dangerous, my instinct is that the dogs that get caught and killed easily are the ones that are really friendly and are coming to you. The dogs that are biting and ferocious are not coming to the dog catcher to be caught and to be killed,” he said.

The activists have waged an aggressive online and on the street campaign. They urge the government to stop what they say is a cruelty to animals.

The activists intensified their campaign in recent weeks after the union of local bodies in Kerala proposed that the government should kill all stray dogs and export their meat to countries where it is eaten.

Protesters appealed tourists to boycott the state that is observing 2015 as the year of Kerala Tourism.

Mohammad Aarif is among the protesters in New Delhi.

“They are looking at it as a business opportunity and want to make money. But that’s not our culture. We have always kept street animals with us. Dogs are a part of our life. If a few have turned aggressive does that justify killing all of them and with this cruelty. It is barbarian and a shame for us as human beings,” he stated.

But cases of dog biting are rampant across India.

Nearly 20,000 people die of rabies every year which is more than a third of global death toll from rabies.

Experts say this is because of the alarmingly high population of dogs in the country.

“We have 1 dog for every 40 human beings which is a dangerously high ratio,” explained R S Kharab, Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India.

The Indian law forbids the killing of dogs and the Animal Birth Control program or ABC in which dogs are sterilized and vaccinated is not implemented strictly.

Kharab says while the ABC is necessary the problem will not go away unless the country fixes its abysmally poor waste disposal system.

“Our cities and towns have been constantly expanding but the civic bodies have not been able to handle the increasing solid waste. As the result, dogs get a lot to eat and the more they get to eat the earlier they mature and breed. A single dog ends up producing more than 200 dogs in a period of 4-5 years,” he said.

Kharab added, “so unless we do something about this, we can’t hope to see a significant improvement in the situation.”
 

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