It was a Saturday morning when Rahul Sharma (name changed) was taking a stroll in the garden of his condominium. A pack of stray dogs jumped on him. There was no reason for the animals to attack him, but Sharma ended up with six bites and 25 injections.
“The dogs came from nowhere and pounced on me. I managed to run some 50m but the dogs kept biting. I finally collapsed on the main road, when some people in two cars scared off the dogs. Many old people walk and relax in that garden everyday. If such a thing has to happen to them, they might not be able to run like I did,” the resident of DLF Magnolias, one of the posh condominiums in Gurgaon, said.
Incidents like these are not rare in Gurgaon. On an average, the Gurgaon Civil Hospital sees 50 cases of dog bites every day. Add this to the number of cases treated at private healthcare facilities and the figure will shoot up. On Monday, however, the government hospital in Old Gurgaon registered 100 cases.
Controlling the increasing stray dog population and resulting man-animal conflicts means walking the tightrope for Gurgaon’s civic body officials -- they have to keep animal rights in mind as well as address residents’ complaints.
The Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) had started an animal birth control programme under which stray dogs were to be sterilised and vaccinated. But the programme hit a roadblock when the MCG ran into a staff-crunch and lack of resources.
The civic body, later decided to outsource the task to NGOs. “We started the sterilisation drive in October 2009. So far, 33,000 stray dogs have been sterilised in Gurgaon. We have outsourced this job to two NGOs in accordance with the rules,” YS Gupta, joint commissioner of the MCG, said.
There are stringent laws related to stray animals -- stray dogs cannot be killed or dislocated from their area even if an individual files a complaint with the authority concerned. In once such case, the residents’ welfare association of North Close, a condominium in Nirvana Country, had evicted two dogs from its complex last year. The RWA was forced to repatriate them after intervention from animal rights activists and Union minister Maneka Gandhi.
Amita Singh, an activist, who runs an NGO in Gurgaon, said stray dogs should be treated with empathy and considered to be part of the ecosystem. “These are homeless dogs who need shelter and love. In return, they will act as our guardians. Dogs never bite a person unless they are provoked,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, residents want civic bodies to take concrete steps to control the stray dogs menace. Speaking on the Magnolias incident, a DLF spokesperson said, “We have approached the municipal corporation officials and an NGO to resolve the situation.”
Mithun, a resident of Gurgaon, had recently filed a complaint on an online portal regarding stray dogs attacking residents of Sunshant Lok 1. “I recently had a narrow escape when a pack of stray dogs near the water tank in B block of Sushant Lok tried to attack me.The dogs are getting aggressive by the day and attacking passersby. Apparently, there have been no cases of dog bite yet, but the situation is threatening when one is alone,” Mithun wrote.
Several similar complaints have been pouring in from Palam Vihar, Sectors 22 and 23, among other densely populated residential areas of Gurgaon.