According to data of the health and family welfare department under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 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).
In 2015, the government says that the state saw only 4,719 cases. Data also shows 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 shows 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 of Amritsar (12,000); Mohali (11,000); Ludhiana 10,771; Gurdaspur (10,252) and Jalandhar (8,000).
Large dip in number of cases in Amritsar, 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 significantly. 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) mayor Kulwant Singh said,
“In addition to sterilization, we created awareness that people must feed dogs at least once a day, so that the animal do not go hungry and bite.”
In Ludhiana, where the number of cases has risen, municipal commissioner Jaskiran Singh said,
“We have sterilized 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 sterilized, 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. Sterilization 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.”
Reference: Hindustan Times
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