By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Feb 23, 2012:
CHENNAI: The expansion of Chennai Corporation’s boundary from 174 sq km to 426 sq km might have brought cheer to lakhs of residents living in suburban areas, but not to the Veterinary Department of the Chennai Corporation, which now has a huge task at hand.
After the merger of 42 adjacent local bodies with the Chennai Corporation, the department now has almost double the number of stray dogs to be covered under the civic body’s Animal Birth Control-Anti-Rabies (ABC-AR) vaccination programme.“We used to immunise about 1,000 stray dogs on an average every month for the past five to six years, but it has nearly doubled after the expansion of Chennai Corporation limits last October,” Dayalan, Veterinary Officer in Chennai Corporation, told City Express.“While the figure was about 1,600 in December last, in January, it rose to 1,950 stray dogs, as the area that was added to the existing Chennai Corporation limits is vast,” he added.Under the immunisation programme, stray dogs in Chennai city (including from the recently annexed areas) are being caught and immunised under the Animal Birth Control programme with the assistance of non-governmental organisations like the SPCA, Blue Cross of India and People for Animals. The entire programme is being adhered to as per the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules 2001, Dayalan said.The consistent immunisation programme in effect for over a decade has helped the Chennai Corporation keep the killer rabies at bay.“There has been no case of rabies in the city in the last few years and complaints of the stray dog menace have also come down drastically over the years,” Dr P Kuganantham, Corporation Health Officer told City Express.“However, we have to strictly enforce our Animal Birth Control-Anti-Rabies (ABC-AR) vaccination programme in those suburban areas that were annexed with the Corporation last October, as a few cases of rabies were reported from those areas last year,” Kuganantham added.There were 120 deaths due to rabies reported in 1996. The number came down to five by mid-2000 and in the last few years, there have been no reports of rabies from the city areas, a Corporation official said.