The menace of stray dogs has been on the rise in Chandigarh, with nearly 500 dog bite cases being reported from the city each month and the municipal authorities battling to find a solution to the problem.
Earlier this week, 13 persons, most of them children, were bitten by a dog in Mani Majra town here, an attack similar to the one witnessed in Sector 20 here last year, in which a stray dog had bitten 20 persons.
The children who were bitten were mostly in the age-group of 5-8 years. One of the victims was bitten by the dog on her lips and the child had to be later admitted to PGIMER here.
Another girl's hair was torn and she sustained injuries on her head and other parts of the body in the attack by the dog, who later died and was found to be rabid.
Officials said that nearly 500 dog bite cases are reported from the city each month, with over 13,000 persons falling victim in the past two years.
During the past months, there has been a sudden rise in the number of dog bite cases, with over 600 cases being reported in January alone this year.
The residents of the city, especially in southern and the central sectors, have complained that stray dogs can be found roaming around in every neighbourhood and have also occupied parks and gardens, making it difficult for the general public and children to use the green spaces for their daily walks and playing purposes.
"I fear sending out my children to play outside. The parks, including the Animal Park near my home, are filled with stray dogs and we cannot allow the children to go out without adult supervision," Arun Kumar, a resident of sector 49-D here, said.
He blamed the Municipal Corporation officials' "lackadaisical approach, causing the problem to go out of control now".
Municipal Corporation officials, however, maintained that during the past five years, close to 8,000 stray dogs have been sterilised and vaccinated against rabies.
The population of stray dogs in the city has increased from 5,713 about six years back to nearly 9,000 at present, according to the officials.
However, many residents claim that the population of stray dogs in Chandigarh was well over 25,000. They have also moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court here against the stray dog menace.
Some of the residents have also alleged that the designated civil dispensary in Sector 19 here also functions only till afternoon, making it difficult for the victims to find the vaccine on time in case they are bitten by a dog during late hours.
Chandigarh Mayor Poonam Sharma said the Municipal Corporation was making efforts to control the stray dog menace in the city.
She said that she had written a letter to Union Minister Maneka Gandhi in this regard and now a delegation that would also comprise of councillors of the corporations would be meeting her in Delhi on Wednesday in a bid to find a solution to the menace.