Civic body made the claim after comparing recent data with 2014 census, but activists say the first census was flawed and thus, even if there are fewer dogs in the streets, the difference may not be 30 per cent.
In a census conducted in October, the civic body found 57,366 stray dogs roaming the streets while the number in the 2014 census, stood at 82,458.
“We managed to keep their population in check by conducting massive sterilisation drives across the city,” a Chennai Corporation official said. “Other factors may include death by natural causes and accidents,” the official added.
According to the census, of the total, 34,710 dogs were found in added zones such as Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur. Among the 15 zones, Ambattur has the highest number of stray dogs — 7,383.
When asked about the factors determining the concentration of stray dogs in particular areas, the official said that the residential areas tend to attract more number of dogs than commercial areas owing to the easy availability of food.
It was in 2014 that the civic body decided to conduct a census on the canines and decided to conduct it once in every four years. “In 2014, we conducted the census manually and only collected basic details. This year, however, we conducted an elaborate census using an exclusive mobile phone application,” the official added.
Observers, who took part in the census, were given mobile phones installed with a special app. Whenever observers located a dog, they would select a specific colour from the application to send the information about the number and its category to the central server. Unlike the previous census, the dogs in the city were categorised into sterilised and non-sterilised males and females, lactating mothers and puppies.
Meanwhile, birth control procedures for the dogs are being conducted at Chennai Corporation’s animal birth control centres (ABC centres) at three locations such as Pulianthope, Lloyds Colony and Kannammapet. In addition to this, Blue Cross of India and MSPCA also run ABC centres.
“The decline in the stray dog population is nearly 30 per cent and this is due to the sterilisation drives. We have sterilised 8,762 dogs from April to November. And, 13,300 dogs were sterilised during the financial year 2017-2018,” the official added.
Residents across several localities also claimed that they have experienced a drop in the stray dog population. “It is true that we find fewer stray dogs in our neighbourhood. The Corporation should continue to control the population,” VS Jayaraman, a resident of T Nagar said.
The census data suggest that, of the 57,366 stray dogs, 15,578 dogs were sterilised. “Based on the census, we will draft action plans to conduct drives to sterilise the dogs. When we catch the dogs for the process, we would also vaccinate them against rabies,” the official said.
Some animal right activists, however, are sceptical of the Corporation’s claim. They said that such a drastic drop in the numbers cannot be attributed majorly to sterilisation drives.
S Muralidharan, co founder, Indian Centre for Animal Rights and Education, said, “In 2014, conservancy workers were used to count the dogs and the data might have been interpreted incorrectly. For example, in the zones where landfills are located, dog would naturally be higher, but the census suggests otherwise. Animal birth control in city is plagued with discrepancies.” Hence, claiming that there is a 30 per cent decrease in stray dog population in Chennai might not be accurate, he said.
Meanwhile, the general manager, of Blue Cross of India, Dawn Williams, said that the breeders are the major causes for the increase in the dog population. “The population of non-sterilised dogs in the city has reduced but some breeders leave the dogs on the streets, which may again lead to an increase in their numbers. Street dogs should be fed by the residents so that it would be easy to catch them as they respond to the residents better,” he added.
904 dog licences issued in the city