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More than 225 dog bite cases in Delhi every day, civic bodies struggle to count canines

According to a recent report, 34039 cases of dog bites have been reported in MCD hospitals so far. The actual figure is expected to be much higher as this does not account for the cases reported at private clinics.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2017 18:37 IST
Vibha Sharma
Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Delhi dogs,Delhi canines
Despite crores allocated by the three municipalities to sterilise dogs, the cases of dog bites have remained unarrested over the years.(Burhaan Kinu/HT FILE)

Hospitals and polyclinics of the three Delhi municipal corporations have reported 34,039 cases of dog bites in the first five months of this year, according to a recent report. The figures till May 31 indicate that there are an average 225 cases of dog bites every day which is slightly higher than last year’s average of 223.

Despite crores allocated by the three municipalities to sterilise dogs, the cases of dog bites have remained unarrested over the years. In 2016, 81,491 cases of dog bites were reported by the three municipalities. A year before that, in 2015, the number was 78,681. During this period, the daily average also jumped from 215 to 233.

The actual figures, however, are expected to be even higher as these do not include the cases treated at private clinics or hospitals. Out of the 34,039 such cases reported so far in 2017, 21,979 have been in North MCD, 11,146 in East MCD and 893 in South MCD.

According to veterinary officials, controlling dog population through sterilisation is the only way out to reduce the dog bite cases. “At the time of sterilising dogs, we give them anti-rabies shots as well, which helps in developing immunity against the disease,” said Yoginder Singh Maan, spokesperson, North MCD.

A senior official from the veterinary department said that though there is no scientific evidence to prove that sterilisation controls dog bites, the canines become less ferocious after they are neutered. However, experts claim that the agencies have failed to take cognisance of other factors responsible for increasing dog bite cases.

Sonya Ghosh, founder of the Citizens for the Welfare and Protection of Animals, pointed out that the dog bite figures provided by the municipality do not specify the number of cases reported by ‘pet dogs’.

“Pet dogs are also equally responsible for biting. A majority of pet dogs are not registered or immunised regularly and their biting can also lead to rabies. These dogs are tied in chains and kept in worst circumstances, which makes them aggressive. If the agencies keep a tap on such cases and punish their owners as per norms, then rest can learn a lesson,” she said.

Ghosh said that illegal dog fights organised in various part of the city is another reason for increase in bite cases. “Areas such as Jamia Nagar are notorious for these illegal dog fights. And despite bringing the issue in notice of authority nothing has happened,” Ghosh said.

No dog census

Despite specific allocations for dog sterilisation programmes every year, the civic agencies have failed to produce a collective data of dog population in city.

Except for south MCD, which conducted a survey of stray dogs last year (1.89 lakh), north and east are still clueless about canine population in their areas. According to a conservative estimate, the numbers could be around 5.62 lakh.

A senior official from North Corporation said a dog census was not feasible due to financial constraints. “There is no point of conducting dog census unless we cover both the reproduction cycles of female canines in a year. Also, the data for 2016 would be totally different from 2017. So if we want exact dog population, we need to engage staff throughout the year, which is financially impossible.”

Lack of efforts

According to experts, neither the municipality nor the Delhi government agencies are seriously implementing the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.

“The rules hold the municipalities responsible for catching stray dogs (on their own or through NGOs) and sterilising them. It also defines the role of local bodies such as Delhi Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals in assisting the sterilisation programmes. But the agency is not doing anything,” said Ghosh.

However, an official from DAPCA refused the claim.

Limited dog sterilisation centres

The three agencies have just 13 dog sterilisation centres — 12 in South, one in North and none in East MCD.

“To catch the dogs, they are mainly dependent on non-government organisations that charge Rs1,200 to Rs770 for sterilising the dogs. Also, the veterinary doctors barely participate in sterilisation programmes and rather sit at offices,” said Sanjeev Kumar, an animal activist.

To this, MCD officials accept that there are certain grey areas which needed to work upon. “We are in the process of developing eight more sterilisation centres such as Karampura, Rama Road, Mangolpuri etc. In east, project for developing centres at two community halls,” said EDMC official.

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 11:32 IST