Issue | Triggers | Suggestions | Solutions | Way ahead
The 7 year Itch - In 2015 a similar issue triggered a change.org petition and the ban was overturned with difficulty despite Animal welfare and civil laws being different and less stringent then.
The issue of Cubbon Park and dogs have existed for a long time. It is existed primarily because it is a very visible issue that one can go after, ban , vilify and close. It is not been seen in context of many other ills of any public place which include public urination, spitting, defecation and lewd behaviour in addition, to unleashed dogs, pet poop and uncivic unmasked people. Once the issue is placed in context and in a more holistic manner, one can understand that Cubbon park as a public place has to be dealt with equally holistically, with a firm yet loving hand and strong involvement from a concerned community of park lovers.
In parallel, animal laws have changed as well . The 2013 situation that allowed you to throw out stray dogs or ban pets is no more applicable or relevant because the Supreme Court guidelines and the AWBI rules have made it very clear that neither can be allowed. In addition, we have the impact of Covid 19 where people increasingly understand the value of a public space, public health and common civic awareness to keep each other and themselves safe false. Therefore one needs to look at the so called immediate situation of pet dog ban in this vaster context so that this does not become the low hanging fruit that authorities and entitled people go after.
While the triggers may be considered to be unleashed dogs and pet poop which is completely unacceptable insufferable and disgusting, every attempt has been made both by the horticulture department and animal lovers to address this issue either by signage, requests, training, security social media etc. However, in every single space or demographic there will always be a small percentage of those who think they're too rich, too dumb or too entitled to follow any laws for public good. The assumption that one is above any such rules or laws and that one knows best rather than the collective knows best is the heart of this complete issue. Even after the ban announcements, we noticed a few people who absolutely refused to follow the law and it was only with constant cajoling or threats that this was handled. So yes we have an issue once again should we punish everyone for the sins of these few.
Suggestions have been given several times over the last 4 years - these have included many which have already been actioned, namely boards, signage, security intervention, volunteers ,marshals etc but the system of penalty and fines and the system of CCTV coverage has not been implemented at all. In fact it was Cubbon Park canines that repeatedly sent out request to the Deputy Directors of Cubbon Park at that time - right from Mr Mahantesh to Ms Kusuma, and all others to Mr Balkrishna to date, to ensure that boards at least 4 put up and that finds were implemented. A formal letter was even sent in this regard but they said needed time to get permission to put in the fines and explorer alternatives in terms of implementation and where the fines would go. We completely understand that but what we want to request is why has this taken so many years? with volunteers, citizens and even security it is very unlikely that these outliers will listen to anything else except a penalty or a ban so there must be some system in place for us to be able to sort this issue. There have been excellent suggestions given by friends like Alyia Krumbiegel who whose great grandfather was the father of so many horticulture initiatives of the city. In terms of putting in some basic systems, collective action needed but undoubtedly the first system has to be fines and penalties and a listing of these uncivic acts.
Having 2 gates open on Sundays and specific focus on dogs from those 2 gates could be one suggestion
Second taking the help of bbmp marshals for an intervening month or two to implement and collect fines would help. Getting volunteers, park marshals from citizenry to implement and fine those who do not pick up litter, urinate in public, spit, unleash the dogs is definitely needed. Getting dog poop compositors in 2 or 3 different locations especially around the dog park is recommended. Having better management of dog park with at least one security being assigned to help would be a great plus supporting the volunteers who do such a great job rather than just leave them adrift. Active Horticulture support would give a lot of motivation to those who give up their time to help at Cubbon park
For those people who said that the situation has become untenable in the last 5 years, let us clearly understand how that comes about. : Bangalore was a less populated area 5 years ago, in those days people rarely brought out their pets to the park, but now the percentage of people in Bangalore has skyrocketed, the population who are adopting and buying dogs has gone up substantially, and during Covid there was a huge spurt in pets. Many were couples and younger people who have great interest in parks and socialising or taking their dog with them everywhere and this resulted in greater presence of dogs in public places like parks restaurants and other areas including malls. Most of these parents are new to the pet parenting game but have quickly adhered to what was needed in terms of leashing, poop, being responsible etc. However many of the darker elements of society which are the Breeders, entitled, or the less educated have continued to be completely indifferent and continue to use public spaces in an ill-conceived and thoughtless manner. Convincing them via logic or conversation has failed.
Dog Park as a saviour
The increasing number of people and therefore dog parents have undoubtedly put pressure on the park. However, the presence of theDog Park has been a saviour as it was possible for these dog parents to have at least one space where their dogs could be unleashed and left free in a safe and enclosed space. Or many would have left then in other areas, Since the largest crowds have been Sundays, the Sunday dog park volunteers have stretch beyond endurance to manage the space, manage the number of families and children who do come ,as well as ensure the dogs are safe and socialised, while making sure that every user is stridently informed to pick up after their dog , and always leash the dog in public. It has become a joke that the volunteers are the dog park do more shouting on leashing and picking up then actually managing the dogs in the dog park. While there is a huge amount of support on ground from selfless volunteers, this cannot be taken for granted or remain unappreciated in the future.
We request the following: better training and support to security, larger number of citizen volunteers, strong system of fines and penalties, a clear message to all people who misuse the park that there will be consequences, better support for the volunteers especially those in the dog park who have done such an amazing job in the last 5 years to ensure that the park has been as well managed as it is. Additional infra like a poop composter would be needed as well. It's a well-known fact that the dog park for the last years of Covid have been the most civic with a 100% masked area, following all disaster management rules of number of people allowed, social distancing etc. The AWBI rules and Supreme Court guidance are very clear on what can be done in this issue, but we as empathetic and gracious citizens must make sure that the park is a haven for all, whether it is pet parents, people who are scared of dogs, rich, poor , differently abled , senior or child, and that they must be allowed to use the park in a sensible, empathetic and mutually respectful manner.
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