65% rise in Chandigarh’s stray dog population in 7 years

Fresh survey raises questions over the municipal corporation’s sterilisation drive
Updated on Sep 24, 2019 12:46 AM IST
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By Vivek Gupta, Chandigarh

Stray dog population has gone up by 65% within seven years in Chandigarh.

This has been revealed in the latest animal census conducted by the UT animal husbandry and fisheries department. While the number of stray dogs stood at 7,847 in the last census conducted in 2012, it has reached 12,900 in 2019.

The figures put a question mark on efforts being made by the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) and the agencies hired by it to sterilise stray dogs.

Meanwhile, city dispensaries continue to attend to around 500 dog-bite cases every month, 85% of which are of locals. In fact, two toddlers have been mauled to death by dogs in the past four years in Chandigarh. 

The survey was conducted at the national level and the compiled report is expected to be released early next year. Even the Punjab and Haryana high court had ordered a fresh survey of stray dogs in Chandigarh in August 2018. It was hearing a contempt petition wherein it was alleged that the MC has failed to control the stray dog menace. Directions were also sought to implement the scheme on stray dog management — notified by the Chandigarh Administration in 2013 — in the city “in letter and spirit”.

How the numbers multiplied

Even as the last census was conducted in 2012, it was three years later in 2015 that the MC started dog sterilisation programme, leading to a spurt in their population.

According to data provided by the MC in court earlier this month, as many as 13,995 dogs have been sterilised to date since April 2015. The number of dogs sterilised each year since then remains staggered, pointing to lack of continuity (see box).

Dr MS Kamboj, who heads the MC’s animal birth control (ABC) programme, admitted that as dog breeds twice in a year, it is possible the stray dog population increased when the sterilisation programme was not fully implemented.

“But since 2015, the MC is sterilising dogs regularly,” he said. “The number of operations has gone down as 80% of the population has been covered. But the results will not be visible immediately, as we are not culling dogs. We are just stopping their reproduction. The impact is generally visible after six to seven years.”

What needs to be done

However, Dr MR Singla, former deputy director, animal husbandry, Haryana, said no city can control stray dog menace till its sterilisation programme targets the entire dog population in one go within a targeted period, say one year.

“What we are doing now is that we sterilise 20-30% dogs in one year, then another 15% dogs the next year. This way, remaining dogs keep reproducing and the numbers keep piling up,” he said. “Many a times, it is also seen that the hired agencies operate upon male dogs to reach their targets whereas the focus should only be on female dogs. A proper zone-wise strategy should be adopted and it should not be abandoned till the entire zone is covered.”

Experts to meet

Meanwhile, in response to the rising numbers, the MC has called a day-long national conference on stray dog management this Saturday. It aims to find “feasible solutions” to curb the menace.

While Chennai-based animal welfare organisation Blue Cross Of India will deliver a lecture on effective ABC programme, experts from Bareilly’s Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bengaluru’s Reference Laboratory and Ludhiana’s Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University will throw light on rabies prevention. Doctors from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research will also talk about management of dog-bite cases.

MC additional commissioner SK Jain said: “We are hopeful that the MC will be able to adopt some of the best practices discussed during the conference to deal with rising stray dog population in the city.”

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Thursday, October 28, 2021