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MCD data highlights a dogged conflict

Sep 16, 2022 03:28 AM IST

Till August 31, the national capital has seen a total of 13,690 cases of dogs biting humans, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) data shows. This is a significant rise from the 7,950 dog bite cases for the entirety of 2021.

New Delhi: Till August 31, the national capital has seen a total of 13,690 cases of dogs biting humans, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) data shows. The civic body has said that this is a significant rise -- the MCD had registered 7,950 dog bite cases for the entirety of 2021.

MCD’s figures have not been attributed to community or stray dogs alone, and several cases do involve pets. (Representative Image)
MCD’s figures have not been attributed to community or stray dogs alone, and several cases do involve pets. (Representative Image)

Figures from health facilities offer a starker number -- the number of dog bite patients treated at municipal dispensaries, colony hospitals and five major hospitals in the city was 22,804 in 2020, 12,014 in 2019 and 22,542 in 2018, MCD has said.

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These points towards the lack of a viable solution to deal with such situations of human-canine conflict due to a number of reasons.

To be sure, MCD’s figures have not been attributed to community or stray dogs alone, and several cases do involve pets. Muddying the waters is the fact that the civic body is completely in the dark about the city’s canine population -- it has been over a decade since MCD has carried out a survey of community dogs, while the registration of pet dogs in the city is minimal.

“The last pan-Delhi survey of community dogs was conducted in 2009, with their population found to be of over 560,000. That number must have only increased in all these years,” an MCD official said on condition of anonymity.

Community dogs are territorial, serve as guard dogs, and keep the rodent population down. But some turn violent (often because some residents abuse them) and can bite passersby and young children. These dogs can’t be exterminated or simply shipped out; there are legal restrictions against both.

At the same time, the registration of pet dogs in the Capital is woeful, with only 1,101 dogs registered as pets between April 1 and September 15 this year – the true number of pet dogs is understood to be much higher.

MCD has urged citizens to get their pet dogs registered in wake of “increasing number of dog bite incidents”. “Under the section 399 of Delhi Municipal Act 1957, it is mandatory to register all pet dogs with the municipal corporation,” MCD said in an official statement.

An MCD official from the veterinary department said the registration process helps maintain an exact count of pet dogs vaccinated against rabies.

However, animal welfare organisations have argued that authorities should encourage more people to adopt community dogs.

Gauri Maulekhi, a trustee with People for Animals, an NGO working towards the welfare of animals, said, “The MCD and the authorities first need to first regulate dog breeding in Delhi. Sensible policies such as waiving off of the pet registration fee for people who adopt indie dogs (community dogs) from shelters or streets must be encouraged… Adoption of indie dogs must be promoted and incentivised by the MCD through public messaging rather than knee-jerk registration efforts.”

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