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07 Dec 2023, Edition - 3068, Thursday

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An end in sight to the stray animal menace in Ooty

Radhakrishnan D


Udhagamandalam: Developments of late, have raised hopes of an end being put, sooner than later, to a chronic problem in this popular holiday destination.

For many years now the hill station has been grappling with the stray animal menace which has been going from bad to worse, with the passage of time. Even as residents started getting used to dodging stray dogs,ponies and cattle on the roads and dark alleys,the problem got worse with the practice of dumping discarded race horses, on the roads.

Having outlived their purpose, the stall fed horses, which were setting the tracks on fire and made to pose for photographs, suddenly
found themselves in unfamiliar territory foraging for food in waste bins. Apart from presenting a pathetic sight,the once pampered horses turned into a nuisance and a traffic hazard.

Efforts by concerned citizens and animal rights activists, to put an end to the practice notwithstanding the abandoned race horses continue to find their way into the town.

With the problem defying a solution for long, encouraging signs, of late, have given some hope to observers.

Leading the fight the Nilgiris Collector Ms.J.Innocent Divya has imposed a ban on the use of retired race horses for joy rides by
tourists, through the Animal Husbandry Department and the Nilgiris Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of whish she is the Preseident. She has announced that anyone found abusing retired race horses for organising joy rides will be fined Rupees 50,000 and the animal will be confiscated and sent to the infirmary.

She laments that the persons now claiming to be owners of the retired race horses do not provide the animals with proper shelter and sufficient food and water, leading to the animals surviving on the town’s garbage. They were wilfully exposed to different kinds of
diseases and risks on the roads.

Pointing out that the initiative of the administration seems to have created some sort of awareness, the NSPCA Nodal Officer Ms.Nagina
Reddy told The Covai Post that the problem is likely to be brought under control, in a matter of time.

Stating that the NSPCA estimates the retired race horse population here to be around 55,she said that most of them have gone off the roads and added, “we don’t know where they are being kept now”.

When some of the so called owners of the retired horses were questioned, they could not produce any papers or licenses. Following the Collector’s announcement even the riding corner at the boat house here is now vacant.

To a question,Ms.Nagina said that if horse riding is streamlined and suitable places designated, the horses can be kept off the roads. Now the situation is such that not only are the animals in danger but they also pose a threat to motorists and pedestrians.

She pointed out that now there were facilities like an Animal Shelter and an Animal Welfare Clinic and the Department of Animal Husbandry
is ready to extend support. Hence if all concerned join hands, a permanent solution can be found to the stray animal menace in the hill
station.In the process treatment of animals in a cruel manner, will also become a thing of the past.

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