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Fangs of fear: Upswing in number of dog-bite cases in Chandigarh, residents place MC

With dog-bite cases increasing at an alarming rate in the tricity, residents blame municipal corporations for failing to take effective measures in this direction. Hindustan Times speaks to those who continue to reel under the trauma, and asks the authorities for a solution.

punjab Updated: Apr 26, 2017 11:45 IST
Team HT
Team HT
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Fangs of fear,dog bite cases,Chandigarh
Stray dogs roaming at Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh. (HT Photo)

With dog-bite cases increasing at an alarming rate in the tricity, residents blame municipal corporations for failing to take effective measures in this direction. Hindustan Times speaks to those who continue to reel under the trauma, and asks the authorities for a solution.

Victim’s woes

‘Scared of even stepping outside’

On April 16, Santosh Rana, a resident of Surajpur, Pinjore, was on her way back from the market. She had just reached the gate of her house when a dog, believed to be rabid, attacked her. The dog caught hold of her leg and bit her 4-5 times while she shrieked in pain. Hearing cries, her husband, Sushil Rana, came out rushing, but the dog had fled.

He took her to a hospital in Panchkula, from where she was referred to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh. “We were told that ₹25,000 would be spent. We then went to GMSH, Sector 16, and later to PGIMER, Chandigarh,” says Sushil Rana. Santosh, who runs a boutique, says “Because of the incident, I have stopped working. Even the thought of stepping outside fills me with fear,” says Santosh.

Many victims of dog-bites continue to suffer. (HT Photo)

‘Bed-ridden due to ridden due to dog bite’

Tej Singh, a 45-year-old labourer, was bitten by a rabid stray dog earlier this month. “So far, I have spent ₹15,000 on a number of injections,” he says.

“We are a family of six. Due to this incident, I can’t work as I have been asked to rest,” he says.

He was rushed to General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, from where he was referred to GMCH-32.

A resident of Surajpur, Tej Singh says six more injections need to be administered. “I am fearful of dogs. That dog had bitten close to nine people in my locality,” he says.

3-year-old victim continues to suffer

Life will never be the same for three-year-old Japdeep Singh who was bitten by a stray dog on his lips in Phase II on March 22. Japdeep, who used to play like any other child of his age, now keeps shuttling from one doctor’s clinic to other as he has to go through a plastic surgery.

“The little one is too young to comprehend the trauma of going under the knife,” says his father Paramjit Singh.

He adds, “I run a charitable dispensary at Phase II gurdwara. My son was with me when suddenly at 10.30 pm, I heard his shrieks and ran out to see his lips bitten.” Paramjit through a legal notice has sought ₹5 lakh compensation from the MC besides bearing the treatment expenses. He claims to have has spent ₹40,000, excluding the expense for plastic surgery. He adds his son had a third degree bite. He says, “I saw the stray dog for the first time that day and I have not seen the animal again leaving me worried whether the dog was a rabid or not. My child fears dogs now. When someone asks him about the incident, Japdeep gets scared.”

Tej Singh, a 45-year-old labourer, was bitten by a rabid stray dog earlier this month. “So far, I have spent ₹15,000 on a number of injections,” he says (Representative image )

‘MC needs to take concrete steps’

Viraj Bhayana, 10, was administered 25 injections in a go after he was attacked by a stray dog. On March 22, Viraj Bhayana had gone to the market close to his house for a stroll with his uncle at 10pm when a stray pounced on him leaving the child injured.

His grandmother Kanta Rani recalls the night: “We kept putting water on his wounds and then rushed him to PGIMER. He had to be administered 25 injections as the dog had left Viraj with seven bites and scratches on his shoulder.”

“His shrieks could be heard in the emergency. He is so scared that he does not like to move out of the house. The corporation should take some concrete steps to control stray dogs so that no one else gets injured,” adds Kanta Rani. She goes on to say that since the incident, they have to take extra care of the child and have spent ₹40,000 has been on Viraj’s treatment.

‘Lost daughter due to MC’s negligence’

Two years after losing her six-yearold daughter Sadia, Imrana believes the incident could have been prevented had the civic body been more careful. Sadia succumbed to her injuries after being attacked by a rabid dog. “Even now they have not learnt a lesson. The number of stray dogs has increased in our locality, but MC is not doing anything about it,” says Imrana, and adds: “Even today, whenever I see stray dogs, I am scared.”

Victim’s uncle, Rizwan, asks: “How will the civic body get our child back? We lodged several complaints, but they (MC) never acted.”

‘Even after 5 yrs, dogs scare me’

Former mayor Harjinder Kaur, who was bitten by stray dogs in 2012 says, “I am sacred today also whenever I see a stray.”

She adds: “Before the incident, I use to go to a gurdwara both early in the morning and late night, but now I don’t do that anymore. Even if I have to go somewhere, I prefer a car.” She says the sterilisation programme by the MC should be monitored more vigorously.

Kaur was coming home at around 9.30 pm, when she was attacked and bit by three stray dogs in a park.

Must read | A dog-bite victim’s mother tells it like it is: ‘9 yrs on, the incident still haunts me’

Authorities’ Take

Adoption is Mohali mayor’s answer

The solution to the growing menace in SAS Nagar according to mayor Kulwant Singh is to adopt them. “A dog bites only when it is hungry,” says Kulwant Singh, who has asked the councillors to encourage the city residents to adopt strays.

By adoption, Kulwant says a person should take the responsibility of feeding the stray and supervise its sterilisation. He, however, adds that giving a permanent shelter to the stray dog is not mandatory. “Stray dogs cannot be weeded out, but there are various ways to tackle their growing population. Councillors should urge residents of their wards to adopt stray dogs,” he says.

With no adoption so far, the MC is working out modalities. “It is a proposal that is workable and we have also invited suggestions. In the next meeting, the same will be placed before the House,” Kulwant says.

The MC official says this will ensure that the dogs get food which will prevent them from chasing people. “MC will also get the stray dogs sterilised and the residents will supervise the process to ensure it is effectively done. Sterilisation will check the growth in population of the stray dogs and supervision will help to check the menace,” says Kulwant. The NGO is paid ₹972 for catching, sterilisation, administering anti-rabies vaccination, feeding, post-operative care and releasing the dog in its territory. A permanent ‘V’ mark is made on the right ear of each sterilised dog.

Meanwhile, despite warning by the Chandigarh civic body to people to register their pet dogs, to date only 2,000 out of over 10,000 dogs have been registered in the past three years.

SAS Nagar Municipal Corporation officials say that the there are around 3,500 stray dogs in the city. MC commissioner Rajesh Dhiman says, “In last two years, 1,300 dogs have been sterilised and as per the new contract of sterilisation, the entire responsibility from capturing of a dog, sterilising it to providing medication and aftercare will be that of the agency.”

The victims, however, continue to struggle for proper treatment. SAS Nagar has only one civil hospital to tackle the rush of patients (8-9 on an average) in a day. The civil hospital in Phase VI is the only place where dog bite patients are treated. At the civil hospital, antirabies vaccine comprising five injections is sold at a subsidised rate of ₹100.

The doctor adds the peak season for dog bites includes months of March, April, May and June.

Sterlisation programme helped UT MC

Taking cognizance of the increasing stray dog bite cases, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation swung into action back in April 2015 and to date, they have sterilised around 8,600 dogs out of an estimated 10,000 (as per 2012 census).

MC joint commissioner Manoj Khatri says, “Till 2012 census, there were 10,000 stray dogs in the city but now again we will conduct the survey. Our programme was successful and population of the stray dogs has come down in the city. The cases of dog bites, which were 25 per day before April 2015, have now reduced to 12.”

In April 2015, the municipal corporation began sterilisation of the stray dogs at the sterilisation centre in Sector 38 (West).

The MC has also signed a MoU with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Udgir, Maharashtra, for running the sterilisation centre and Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme in Chandigarh.

Panchkula remains divided

Afew people in Panchkula have accused some others of abetting dog bites. They allege that stray dogs are being fostered around residential colonies by people who offer them food and when these strays don’t get food, they attack.

Panchkula MC on April 21 issued guidelines that feeding street dogs should be done at a particular place i.e. out of the community premises.

Lily Bawa, councillor for sectors 12, 12 A and 14, says dog lovers should share the blame for dog bite cases. “A woman used to feed stray dogs in my area. I made sure she doesn’t come in our area anymore,” she says. “They can feed stray dogs at their home but they shouldn’t endanger life of others,” she adds.

Yasmin Dutta Khosla, executive member of Society for Protection of Cruelty Against Animals (SPCA), Panchkula, has a different opinion. She says, “If we do not give them food and water they will get wild and attack us. But dog lovers can choose a central area where dogs can be fed.”

(Contributed by Hillary Victor, Monica Sharma, Shailee Dogra and Bhartesh Singh Thakur)

First Published: Apr 24, 2017 12:19 IST