Stray Dogs Culling: Activists Calls for Tourists to Boycott Kerala

The Kerala government could not keep ignoring the escalating stray dog population in the state and turn a blind eye to the clamour for action against growing incidents of dog bites any longer. The state reported 40,000 dog bite cases in the last eight months alone. But the government’s recent order on implementation of Animal Birth Control Programme and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s directive to put down aggressive dogs has not gone down well with animal rights groups and dog lovers. However, with calls to boycott Kerala and concerted social media campaigns against the state, it appears like rights groups are going overboard with this.

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“The government is committed to protecting the people. We will take strict measures to control the stray dog population. The veterinary department has been given instructions to ensure sufficient vaccination,” said Oommen Chandy after an all party meeting on the issue. “Existing laws and court orders are not against killing of stray dogs that are having rabies or those that are violent,” the Kerala Chief Minister added.

Animal rights groups though fear that the call to euthanize aggressive dogs will lead to massive culling of dogs. Who will identify which dogs are troublesome or aggressive and how will they do so, they ask. Some argue that vaccinations and birth control alone should do the trick and point to the successful example of Jaipur.

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A group of activists have even started a movement called the “Worldwide Boycott Kerala Movement 2015” and called for tourists from across the world to boycott Kerala until it stops killing stray dogs. It is clear their objective is to hit the state where it hurts most – tourism.

What should worry the state, and Kerala Tourism, is that the campaign is gaining some attention. Protest and marches against culling of stray dogs have taken place in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Haryana. Globally, many foreign activists have also joined the cause.

Meanwhile, a group of Keralites have also started a counter movement on social media to ‘Stop the hate campaign against Kerala’. They assert that the #BoycottKerala movement is a result of misinformation spread by the AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) and misunderstanding of the government’s stance. They say government has decided to use Animal Birth Control measures in view of recommendations made by animal rights activists and experts.

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