Indian state's plans to cull stray dogs hits opposition

Story highlights

  • The government of the Indian state of Kerala plans to cull "rabid or dangerous" stray dogs
  • But the Animal Welfare Board of India urges Kerala to wait for Supreme Court ruling

(CNN)A state in India has announced drastic action to deal with its problem of dangerous stray dogs with rabies: culling. But the Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory board that advises the government, urged the state of Kerala to hold off on euthanizing any dogs.

India has a major problem with rabies. The WHO reported in April 2014 that India has about 18,000 to 20,000 cases of rabies a year and 36% of the world's deaths from the disease are found in the country.
After a conference on the problem last week, the government of Kerala said in a statement: "Street dogs will be injected with rabies vaccine and tagged with an identification mark. ... Current laws or court judgments do not prevent the putting down of rabid or dangerous strays."
    But the AWBI disagrees.
    In a letter to Kerala's Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Dr. R.M. Kharb, the chairman of the AWBI, wrote: "Please immediately place on hold, the decision to cull aggressive street dogs taken at the meet, and await the outcome of the stray dogs matters pending before the Supreme Court.
    "In sanctioning the proposed cull, you will in fact be acting in the face of, and in violation of the Supreme Court view. We at the Animal Welfare Board of India trust that is not your intention to do so."
    In an earlier letter to the chief secretary of the Kerala government, a representative of the Animal Welfare Board of India, S. Vinod Kumaar, urged the state to consult a 1960 law that stipulates the proper methods for controlling canine populations. Also attached to the letter were three petitions passed by the Supreme Court of India, which await a final hearing in August.
    Some have taken to Twitter to complain about diseased, free-roaming dogs, saying public safety is a bigger concern than protecting stray dogs.