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Star's lifeline for Indian strays

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

Pamela Anderson
Please also use your offices to mandate that all dogs adopted or purchased from animal shelters and pet shops be sterilised
Pamela Anderson

Stray dogs in India's financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay) should be sterilised not killed, says former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson.

Animal lover Ms Anderson intervened on the dogs' behalf in a letter to the city authorities.

"Dogs cannot use condoms but... they can be 'fixed' painlessly," she wrote.

The star learnt of the dogs' plight after Mumbai's High Court recently said strays should be killed as they were a "permanent nuisance" to the public.

'More humane'

"I was very concerned to learn from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) that dogs that live on the streets of Mumbai may be caught and cruelly destroyed.

"It is well established that killing stray dogs is not a permanent solution to controlling their populations," her letter to the municipal commissioner of Mumbai says.

Pet monkey Rani clutches on to cart puller Durga Prasad, right, as she plays with stray dog Ramu, left, in Gurgaon, India, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009
Stray dogs are an issue across India

Referring to studies conducted by the World Health Organisation and the Animal Welfare Board of India, she said that "mass sterilisation of stray animals is the most viable solution to nuisance and health concerns in addition to being more humane".

"Dogs cannot use condoms, but with the municipality's help, they can be 'fixed' - painlessly, quickly and permanently," her letter states.

Animals rights activists say that as many as 70,000 strays in Mumbai and many more across the states of Maharashtra and Goa may be disposed of if the High Court's ruling goes ahead.

The decision has been stayed until the end of this month.

Anuradha Sawhney, from the animal protection group Peta, said that Ms Anderson got in touch with their US branch after reading about the court ruling in Mumbai.

Officials contacted by the BBC said that because the court decision had been stayed, no further action against stray dogs had been taken. They refused to comment about the letter.

Ms Sawhney said the solution lay in cleaning up the city and blocking canine feeding sources - most commonly found in rubbish.

'Hot'

The row over what to do about rabid, incurably ill, wounded and nuisance dogs has been going on for years.

Maybe killing is not the best way but stray dogs are a menace
Medical professional Samir Guliyani

Despite several sterilisation programmes, the population of strays has not been controlled.

There were mixed views about Ms Anderson's intervention among people in Mumbai.

Sales manager Shubhada Surve said: "Ethically it may not be right to kill dogs but who is Pamela Anderson to get involved in Mumbai's issues?

"There's no doubt that the stray dog problem is a major one and I don't think Pamela can really understand the gravity."

Medical professional Samir Guliyani, a cyclist, said "maybe killing is not the best way but stray dogs are a menace".

"The way they suddenly pounce on bike riders is dangerous. Something has to be done and they have to be off roads."

On the subject of Pamela herself, Mr Guliyani said: "She is hot but why is she writing to the municipal commissioner?"

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