Though residents across the state are reeling under the stray dog menace, the Punjab government has managed to get rid of over four lakh stray dogs in the last three years, at least on paper.
The state government's affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana high court stating that Punjab has only 59,806 stray dogs has left many animal rights activists shocked. As per the 19th livestock census held by the Centre in 2012, the stray dog population in Punjab was 4, 70,558 stray dogs. How the state government managed to 'eliminate' over four lakh stray dogs in three years and that too in the absence of any visible effective measures remains a mystery, claim activists.
The government affidavit submitted to the high court last month claimed that of the 59, 806 stray dogs across the state, as many as 42,341 were in municipal corporations and 17,465 in other areas. The affidavit also provided a district-wise break-up of the dog population.
According to the livestock census that is conducted every 10 years, the total population of stray dogs in Punjab's urban areas was 80,727 (62,986 males & 17,741 females). The rural areas figure was 3.89.831 (3,00,072 males & 89,109 females). The total stray dog population in both rural and urban areas came out to be 4, 70,558 (3,63,708 males & 1,06,850 females).
Shockingly, the 19th state census held in 2014 also says that Punjab has nearly 3.8 lakh stray dogs. The Society for People's Welfare & Awareness, an NGO in Patiala, which had some time back raised the issue of stray dog menace across the state, claimed the Punjab government has fudged the stray dog figure.
"It is not for the first time that wrong data has been projected. The society had sought information under the right to information (RTI) act from Patiala municipal corporation two years back and the number of stray dogs given by the civic body was without any calculation or survey", said Dr DS Bhullar, chairman of the NGO.