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HomekarnatakaDogs, cats left behind in Bengaluru’s cattle-centric vet policy

Dogs, cats left behind in Bengaluru’s cattle-centric vet policy

Bengaluru: In a move that’s stirring controversy among animal lovers, the Department of Animal Husbandry has announced a significant shift in veterinary resources in Bengaluru. Citing a decline in the city’s cattle population, the department plans to close a key veterinary hospital and 26 clinics, reallocating these resources to other parts of Karnataka grappling with growing cattle numbers and a shortage of medical facilities.

This decision has sparked outrage among pet owners and animal welfare advocates. They argue that the government’s focus solely on cattle ignores the burgeoning population of domestic pets like dogs and cats, which heavily rely on these facilities.

Central to the closures is the Jayanagar Veterinary Hospital, a pivotal institution in Bengaluru. Along with it, 24 city clinics and three in Anekal taluk will be shuttered, affecting areas such as Thalaghattapura and Jalahalli. Most of these centres are clinics and the rest are health centres with minimal facilities.These closures leave Bengaluru with nearly 70 veterinary centres, including 18 hospitals, but critics fear this won’t suffice. They raise concerns about the accessibility and affordability of private veterinary care, especially for the city’s less affluent pet owners.

A S Nagarajan from Jayanagar Canine Squad points out that the Jayanagar Veterinary Hospital alone treats over 1,500 animals monthly, including a significant number of street dogs. The lack of nearby government alternatives poses a dire challenge to animal welfare.

“We, as a team of volunteers, were looking after close to 400 dogs, and the hospital was doing a good job in providing treatment. There are no other government facilities nearby and the one in Hebbal is far,” he said, requesting the government to drop the plan.

There are4,234 veterinary centres across Karnataka, andBengaluru Urban has 101 such facilities, including a super-speciality vet hospital.

The government has cited the guidelines issued by the National Commission for Farmers, which stipulate a veterinary centre for every 5,000 animals. The cattle population in parts of Bengaluru is less than 1,000, the order states.  “There is a severe shortage of vet facilities in different parts of Karnataka. Since there is no proposal to add new centres in these places, the facilities that are not put to optimum use in Bengaluru will be shifted to other parts of Karnataka,” the government report states.

(Published 19 December 2023, 21:37 IST)

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