In job-starved Kashmir, where educated youth crave for employment opportunities, the state government has advertised openings for the little-known post of Dog Catcher(DC) in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Interestingly, till now, post of DC used to be synonymous mainly with District Commissioner in the valley. The civic body looks ahead to initially recruit 15 unemployed youth as Dog Catchers, whose sole duty will be to catch stray packs for upcoming sterilization, and to nurse them post-sterilization at the dog shelter at Khimber on the outskirts of Srinagar.

As per the prescribed criteria, the candidates need to be permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, between the age group of 18 and 33 years with minimum qualification of 10+2. But educational qualification alone won’t help you qualify the screening test. The candidate needs to have “macho body.” As per the laid-down norms, the SMC has asked the applicants to get “Good Health Certificate (from registered doctor).” While hundreds of youth have already applied for the job, officials say candidates with muscular physique would be given preference. And this has a reason. With over one lakh dogs on the prowl in the city, the government has been saying that these canines are “healthiest in the country for being fed on most protein-rich diet.”

As per official estimates made by the Veterinary Department, given the huge mutton and chicken consumption in Kashmir, each stray dog in Srinagar gets a share of around 300 grams offal per day, thrown away as waste. Dr Muhammad Farooq Kaloo, a noted veterinarian and former bureaucrat, who has done numerous studies on the subject says: “Given the good diet they enjoy, stray dogs here are most muscular and healthy, which is unlike of elsewhere in the country where they are lean and almost-starving.”

Officials say the idea to look for “macho DC” is the brainchild of SMC Commissioner Dr Shakqat Khan, who actually happens to be middle-rung medical practitioner from Health Department, presently on “special deputation”. “Doctor Sahib through his professional acumen in the field of medicine thought good health and physique need to be prerequisite to recruit DCs so that transfer of any diseases from humans to stray packs or vice-verse is avoided.”