Bangalore (SBC): City will soon be the centre for a first-of-its-kind shelter for retired Railway Police Force (RPF) dogs from across India. The South-Western Railways (SWR), Bengaluru Division, will drive the retirement programme and the shelter will come up on Railways property at KR Puram.
Sunanda Arul, Additional Divisional Railway Manager, SWR, Bengaluru Division said that the shelter will provide a dignified life to RPF dogs post retirement and that Bengaluru was chosen mainly because of its favourable weather. “The KR Puram shelter will accommodate 50 retired RPF canines from across the country. The project is currently in the planning stages and details will be finalised in a month’s time.”
The RPF’s dog-squad comprises of two breeds – Labradors (for sniffing and bomb detection) and Dobermans (used for chases and catching criminals). “They remain in service for 10 years, after which they are put to rest. Normally , they have a life span of 13-14 years,” said Arul.
These RPF dogs are entrusted with the duty of escorting passenger trains, providing security on platforms, passenger and circulating areas and protecting railway property. Around 50 dogs retire annually .
Currently , there are approximately 350 dogs in service across 70 RPF divisions across the country. The Bengaluru division has nine dogs of which two are Dobermans and the rest are Labradors.
The SWR will collaborate with doglovers, veterinary experts and city based welfare institutions like Compassionate Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) and Karuna Animals Welfare Association (formerly SPCA Bangalore) to benchmark best living conditions and healthcare facilities. “We will have six staff members to attend to them at all times and have a Vet on call. The dogs will lead an active life and be vaccinated once a month,” the railway officer said.
Financial donations apart, SWR is also open for giving dogs away for adoption. “Currently, we have two trainers for one dog. To match up to those standards, adopters need to have considerable experience in taking care of pets,” Arul said.”These are well-groomed dogs that are not used to ready made, processed food.
So they have to be provided with home-cooked, non-vegetarian food at all times.” She added that at present, SWR has 12 dog-lovers on board, including former finance commissioner Vijaya Kanth. But they are still on the lookout for more support. “Every dog gets `5,000 aspension post-retirement, which we plan to use. That apart, we have also reached out to the Railway Board for more funds.”
Dr Shiela Rao, a veterinarian and trustee of CUPA, welcomed the initiative and hoped that it would lead the way for the police force to follow suit.
“Dogs tend to suffer from various old-age problems like arthritis, diabetes, skin and kidney diseases. RPF dogs are generally more sensitive to it given the rigorous nature of their duty ,” she told. “A free, open environment, access to healthy food and water and active socialisation with other dogs will do well for their longevity ,” Rao said.