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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Eye on heads of dog packs

Darjeeling, Jan. 24: The Darjeeling municipality has decided to identify and capture only the leaders of the stray dog packs at Toongsoong where the animals allegedly killed a man and injured a youth this month.

The dogs will be captured by an NGO that would keep the animals under observation to find out if they have rabies and efforts will be made to change their aggressive behaviour.

Panic has gripped Toongsoong where closed-circuit television cameras put up by foresters captured images of stray dogs attacking and eating up two goats, which had been kept as bait in a cage.

Suk Bahadur Biswakarma, the vice-chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, today said: “We held a meeting with the district and forest officials and representatives of local NGOs in Darjeeling yesterday. It has been decided that efforts will be made to capture the pack leaders and aggressive stray dogs, the ones which are the heroes in the pack, and they will be sent to the Darjeeling Animal Shelter’s home for observation.”

The foresters will continue to keep the cage in the area and local people will place meat in the trap to attract the dogs. “Every morning, the foresters will make the CCTV footage available to the Darjeeling Animal Shelter authorities. They will identify the aggressive dogs and try to capture them,” said Biswakarma.

The Darjeeling Animal Shelter is an NGO that runs a home for stray dogs and other animals.

During the meeting, there was a general feeling that not all dogs attacked humans and the animals needed to be observed before deciding on the extreme step of shooting the stray dogs as demanded by some residents. “If the corrective measures do not work, then we might have to take the extreme step,” Biswakarma said.

Bidya Tamang, the in-charge of the animal shelter situated at Lebong, said: “We will try to isolate the aggressive dogs. We will find out if they are rabies carriers and will also make an attempt to change their violent trait. In most cases, animals usually become violent when they are threatened. A change in the environment could change their behaviour also.”

She said the animal shelter did not have the space to accommodate all stray dogs. “That is why we have decided to pick only the most aggressive stray dogs and bring them to the shelter,” she said.

The residents of Toongsoong, who wanted the dogs to be killed, are willing to wait for sometime. “We are hoping for the best,” said a resident.