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At Lakes, pet love vs puppy hate

Trinamul MLA Debasree Roy on Wednesday led a march to allow dogs at Rabindra Sarobar, igniting an old peeve of animal lovers.

The trigger for the actor-legislator’s rally was an incident about 10 days ago when some people allegedly humiliated poet Brinda Sen while she was feeding about 20 stray dogs at the Lakes, south Calcutta’s preferred morning walk zone.

Debasree, who is also an animal rights activist, said: “No one should be allowed to ill-treat dogs or even people who love or bring dogs. Who are they to decide that dogs cannot be fed in the Lakes?”

Animals aren’t allowed on the premises, says a board put up by the Calcutta Improvement Trust, the custodians of Rabindra Sarobar, though the lakeside park harbours a sizeable number of stray dogs.

Several morning walkers argued that the “ban” should not be lifted because pet owners never care to clean up the “poop and pee” of their dogs; and there’s always the risk of dog bites. “A stray dog had bitten a guard a few days ago. Those who want to bring their pets inside the Lakes don’t understand the consequences of a dog bite,” said Sumita Banerjee.

The dog debate is an old one at the Lakes, often leading to confrontations. “I come to the Lakes for morning walks and I feel sorry for my friends forced to walk their pet dogs on the footpath outside,” said Anupama Chandra, a homemaker.