More than 22,000 pet dogs in city not licensed, says BMC census
As reported by Nitya Kaushik in Express India on 09/05/08

Mumbai, May 8 There are 26,900 pet dogs in the city, according to a recent census (October 2007-January 2008) carried out by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). However, the city has only 4,204 licensed dogs, according to a recent reply from the BMC to a Right to Information (RTI) query submitted by Newsline.

If the BMC census figures are to be believed, then Section 191 B of the BMC Act, 1888 is being broken by both the civic body and owners of the unlicensed dogs. Licensing dogs helps make the city safer for the general public because only vaccinated dogs can be licensed.

Explaining why more than 22,000 pet dogs have not been licensed, G T Ambe, BMC joint executive health officer, said, “We have been hamstrung by shortage of staff. We now aim to licence at least 10 dogs per day so that at least 15,000 to 20,000 dogs are licensed in a few years”.

Abodh Aras of Welfare of Stray Dogs, said: “As a rabies control measure, licensing is important for a pet owner”. He said a countrywide study a few years ago indicated that unlicensed pet dogs largely contribute to the spread of rabies.

Over the past few months, spurred on by residents, the BMC has attempted to enforce a poop-scooper rule and fine dog owners who don’t clean up after their pooch in public. However, with only 4,204 dogs licensed in the city, the BMC would find it difficult to enforce the rule on all 26,900 pet dogs, as there is no proof they are pets. An owner of a licensed dog said: “If enforced before proper licensing, poop-scooping would harass those who care to follow the law. They should first licence all the pet dogs, then enforce the rule”.

Recently, mayor Shubha Raul had said that the BMC was thinking of increasing the annual pet dog licence fee by 25 times.
But some wondered why the BMC would make existing licensed dog owners pay heavy fees without first going after unlicensed pets. Sanam Karunakar, owner of two licensed dogs in Grant Road, said, “It would be ridiculous to charge existing dog owners a Rs 5,000 annual fee. This will only discourage people from licensing their pets.”

Aras said: “A yearly fee of Rs 100 is not a big deal. But many don’t know about licensing. There are only four dog licensing offices, which makes it very cumbersome for dog owners”.
Shirin Merchant, editor of Woof magazine, said, “What do pet owners get for licensing? The city doesn’t offer any benefits to them”. Aras says that in some localities there are dog-walking zones. “Such zones should be made at different locations,” he said.

Meanwhile, some even doubted BMC’s census figures. Merchant asked, “I wonder how the census was done. Nobody visited my home for a pet count.”

Pet cost
* The BMC charges Rs 100 for every year of a dog’s life for first-time licence. This would mean the owner of a seven-year-old dog pays Rs 700 to get a license and Rs 100 every year after that to keep renewing it.
* In addition, owners must also pay a one-time fee of Rs 150 for the licence book.
* All owners must present proof that dogs have been given shots before licensing.