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Govt’s registration bark at dog owners

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 26: The state government has proposed to put dog owners on a leash.

The housing and urban development department has written to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation to enforce a licensing system for all pets in the city.

In the first phase, dogs will be targeted. An official of the department said the move was aimed at maintaining a database of the canine population, their immunisation and anti-rabies measures. The city has nearly 30,000 canines, one-third of which are pets, according to an estimate of the fisheries and animal husbandry development department.

Though the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, 1950, stipulates a licence fee of Rs 25 for each pet dog, the state government later gave freedom to civic bodies to devise their own fee structure. However, as only a few dog owners came forward to register their pets, the civic body withdrew the practice of collecting the licence fees since 2011.

The urban development departmentwants the civic body to resume the practice. “We have written to all the civic bodies to collect the licence fees annually, failing which a fine will be imposed on the pet owners,” said the department’s deputy secretary Anjana Panda.

Though municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra said he was yet to receive the letter, a senior civic officer said the directive was not aimed at raising revenue.

Chairman of the standing committee on sanitation of the corporation Seikh Nizammudin admitted that licensing for dogs was not effectively implemented. A dog owner had to pay Rs 15 a year against a token, which remained attached to the dog’s collar. The token helped identify the owner of the missing dog.

Ananya Mohapatra, 22, a college student, welcomed the proposal. “It will help address many animal welfare concerns, ranging from over-breeding of dogs to lack of genuine ownership,” she said.

Namita Ray, 51, who has a five-year-old female Alsatian, said the civic authorities should consider mandatory micro-chipping of dogs. “Micro-chipping will enable the authorities to identify the owners, who abandon their dogs or allow them to cause nuisance,” said Ray.

Jiban Ballabh Das of the People for Animals said licensing should be made compulsory.