MCD removing street dogs in Delhi inhumanely, allege activists
MCD on August 3 issued orders saying that it will undertake a month-long drive to remove street dogs from at least 50 key locations for the G20 Summit
With less than a week to go for the G20 Summit, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has begun relocating community dogs from areas around event venues. However, the civic body has come under flak from animal welfare organisations, who have accused MCD of carrying out an illegal exercise without any written orders, and of treating the dogs inhumanely.
HT reached out to MCD, but the civic body’s officials did not respond to queries for a comment on the relocation exercise.
Community dogs are territorial, serve as guard dogs, and keep the rodent numbers down. These dogs can’t be exterminated or simply shipped out; there are legal restrictions against both. According to rules laid down by the Animal Welfare Board of India and Prevention of Cruelty (Animal Birth Control) Rules, 2023, a civic body can pick up dogs to sterilise them, but after surgery and recovery, these animals must be released in the same area.
Despite the rules, MCD on August 3 issued orders saying that it will undertake a month-long drive to remove street dogs from at least 50 key locations for the Summit. But after the decision sparked outrage from animal rights groups, the civic body was forced to roll it back in just two days. However, despite its earlier directions being annulled, the civic body quietly began relocating street dogs — including those already sterilised — on September 1.
Animal rights activist Ambika Shukla, who runs the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC), said volunteers with her shelter and city residents reported community dogs being removed from near Pragati Maidan, Rajghat, Qutub Minar, Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, and Aerocity.
“Picking up already sterilised dogs is a violation of ABC (animal birth control) rules. There is no need to remove friendly, gentle, sterilised dogs. Secondly, if you are going to do it (relocate dogs), do it properly. We reached out to MCD to help towards collecting the dogs kindly and safely, but they did not accept the offer. Thirdly, every holding unit needs to be open to feeders and caretakers to ensure the best care for the dogs,” she said.
Gauri Maulekhi, an animal rights activist and trustee at People For Animals (PFA), said her NGO has received complaints about dogs being picked up from areas in south and central Delhi.
To be sure, MCD routinely relocates community dogs around key areas like Rajghat during VIP movement, but the relocation period usually lasts only a day or two.
Maulekhi said, “We understand that we need to showcase the country at such an event, but brushing our issues under the carpet without any scientific remedy does not serve any purpose. The Capital lacks effective animal control programmes, and the ABC programme is being run in an unplanned fashion, and is riddled with corruption, due to which we still have dogs on streets.”
Dr Asher Jesudoss, a nominated member of the executive committee of the Delhi Animal Welfare Board, said, “We had suggested that an oversight committee should be formed to oversee this drive when the orders were issued last month (MCD order to relocate community dogs). Now they are catching dogs illegally without any written orders. We have videographic evidence from several localities. MCD workers are using techniques which are not allowed under ABC rules. They are dragging dogs with noose around metallic rods,” he said.
Meanwhile, MCD is completely in the dark about the city’s canine population. “The last pan-Delhi survey of community dogs was conducted in 2009, with their population found to be over 560,000. That number must have only increased in all these years,” an MCD official said on condition of anonymity.
The civic body has 18 ABC centres, which are run with the help of NGOs and private veterinary doctors, and 80,000-90,000 dog sterilisations are carried out annually.