Canine terror: Punjab saw 300 cases of dog bite a day over past two years
Over 1 lakh cases reported each in 2016 and 2017; sharp increase in number over 2015, when 4,719 cases were recorded, according to information supplied under RTI.punjab Updated: Mar 19, 2018 09:44 IST
The state has seen an average of 300 dog-bite cases a day, or 1 lakh cases over each of the past two years (in 2016 and 2017), according to data that the health and family welfare department has supplied in response to a query under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
The number of cases has skyrocketed over 2015, the year that the government says the state saw only 4,719 cases. Data also show that no rabies case and no death due to dog bite has been reported since 2015.
According to the Centre’s 19th Livestock Census held in 2012, the stray dog population in Punjab was 4.7 lakh.
A perusal of the data throws up some interesting facts. In 2017, the top five districts in terms of number of dog-bite cases were Ludhiana (13,000); Patiala (9,700); Jalandhar 8,100, Hoshiarpur (7,900) and Kapurthala 6,700. In 2016, the list comprised Amritsar (12,000); Mohali (11,000); Ludhiana 10,771; Gurdaspur (10,252) and Jalandhar (8,000).
Large dip in number of cases inAmritsar, Gurdaspur and Mohali
Last year the number of cases in the three districts of Amritsar (5,900); Gurdaspur (5,800) and Mohali (6,500) had dipped over 2016. There was a spurt in cases in Fatehgarh Sahib and Barnala; for Fatehgarh Sahib, this was a jump of 335% or around four times, from 428 cases in 2016 to 1,863 in 2017. Barnala saw a five-fold increase in cases to 3,250 last year over 610 cases in 2016.
Officials’ take on menace
Mohali (the city has showed an improvement in 2017 over 2016) mayor Kulwant Singh said, “In addition to sterilisation, we created awareness that people must feed dogs at least once a day, so that the animal does not go hungry and does not bite.”In Ludhiana, where the number of cases has risen, municipal commissioner Jaskiran Singh said, “We have sterilised around 35,000 stray dogs. To bring down the number of cases, we will also build a dog pound.”
A senior official claimed that the state government did take measures to check stray dog population, but animal rights groups started protests, derailing their efforts.
A major impediment to taking action against stray dogs is the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme. Under this, stray dogs can be sterilised, but have to be released back at the location they were picked up from.
Another officer added that the number of cases were even more, as a large number of people received treatment at private hospitals that were not taken on record.
A Venu Prasad, principal secretary, local bodies department, said, “We have been doing our best. Sterilisation of stray dogs is being done across the state.”
Punjab Health Systems Corporation managing director Varun Roojam said, “We provide the best treatment. Anti-rabies vaccine is available at all government hospitals for free.”
Reshamjeet Kaur, an animal rights activist, said, “Children must avoid making eye contact with dogs and be kind. Children should not irritate sleeping dogs, as they can turn aggressive.”