With six incidents of residents being bitten by stray dogs reported in Sector 48 three days back, panic has gripped the entire area but the Municipal Corporation has failed to put a leash on the stray dogs' menace. Their number has shot up to 12,000. Worse still, 20 dogbite cases are being reported daily at the Sector-19 civil dispensary, the only rabies clinic in the city. Despite this worrying situation, the civic body continues to bark up at the wrong tree.
Out of 12,000 stray dogs in the city, only about 2,000 have been sterilised. As per the MC records, a survey conducted by the animal husbandry department in 2007 put the number of stray dogs at 5,700 in the city. The 2007 census revealed that in the old sectors there were more than 100 stray dogs. There were 113 stray dogs in Sector 7, 115 in Sector 15 and 220 in Sector 20. In the newer sectors, the figure was even higher. The records revealed that Sector 44 had 215 dogs, Sector 47 had 160 and in Sector 4, the figure was 143.
However, when contacted, Dr MS Kamboj, superintendent, MC slaughter house, said, "We cannot do much beyond the provisions of the Animal Birth Control Act, 2001. In the past four years, sterilisation of more than 5,000 dogs had been undertaken and nearly 4,000 dogs have been vaccinated. We are working as per the act."
Nominated councillor Maj DS Sandhu (retd), who has raised the issue in the house several times, said, "I will ask the authorities in the meeting to present an action taken report. Even former mayor Harjinder Kaur became victim of stray dogs, but MC officials have not moved an inch. They will realise the gravity of the situation only after they will become victim of stray dogs.
A senior doctor at the Sector-19 civil dispensary admitted that the number of dogbite cases is increasing in the city. "Of the total cases, we have nearly 80% cases in which people were bitten by stray dogs while in 20% cases, pets turned on their caretakers."
Anti-rabies vaccine not available
When HT correspondent visited the Sector-19 dispensary, it was found that there was no stock of the anti-rabies vaccine for the last more than one year.
Whenever a case of dogbite is reported, the patient is to be administered a serum, followed by an injection. However, the vaccine is not available at the dispensary. The plight of the patients is that they are forced to purchase anti-rabies vaccine from the open market, which costs Rs 1,750, roughly translating into Rs 350 per dose for five vaccinations against government supply for five doses, which is Rs 1,400 only.
The dogbite victims are advised to go to Panchkula or Mohali for treatment where the vaccine is available at a subsidised rate of Rs 100 at government hospitals. The Sector-19 dispensary has received only 3,000 vaccines in the last one decade.
No dog ponds till date
Former UT administrator Gen SF Rodriques (retd) during his Independence Day speech in 2009 had announced that two dog ponds will be set up, but nothing has been done so far. From the past three years, the Chandigarh administration and MC are looking for some suitable place at the Industrial Area for the purpose as the land selected at Maloya was rejected on the plea that it was near a 'gaushala'. The MC should come up with a concrete proposal regarding construction of a dog pound to provide temporary shelter for potentially rabied and sick dogs.
What MC should do?
The MC should organise vaccination camps with the help of NGOs and Residents Welfare Associations in their area to vaccinate the stray dogs to prevent transmission of rabies virus and at least 90% of the dog population has to be covered in 2012. Single dose of rabies vaccine for a stray dog will cost around Rs 35-45.
The manufacturers recommend a booster dose of vaccination after every one to three years and that too depends upon the rabies situation of that area because it may vary from area to area.