GUWAHATI, June 29 - Contrary to the common perception, dogs that are supposed to be man’s best friend, are fast turning into man’s worst enemy!
Records reveal that in Guwahati itself at least 20 people have been subjected to dog bites every day on an average in the last one year.
The count only includes statistics gathered from the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital and the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital. The figure may escalate several notches higher if the cases from the private sector hospitals too are taken into account.
Further, taking into consideration the volume of anti-rabbies vaccine (ARV) bought and distributed to all the government-run hospitals across the State, it is estimated that nearly 50,000 cases of dog bites are reported in the government sector alone.
As of today, as per the government’s chain of medicine distribution in the entire State, nearly 2.5 lakh doses (units) of anti-rabbies vaccines have been administered on patients in the current year and that too only in government sector hospitals, meaning that, over 130 dog bite cases are recorded in a day on an average across the State.
“And each dog bite victim is given three to five doses. The arithmetic suggests that at least 50,000 dog bite cases are treated in the State in a year,” a senior State health department official told this reporter.
“Even the slightest provocation, which again is subjective, can invite fatal results. Incidents of people being chased down by packs of dogs at deserted locations, especially late in the night, are common. Children, women and elderly people are the worst victims,” the official said. Experts largely blame it on the sharp increase in population of canines across the State with laxity on the part of the government further adding to the menace.
“It is not just the stray ones, even pet dogs have accounted for a good number of dog bite cases. However, the prime focus has to be the stray ones, whose number is increasing in a very disturbing manner,” said Dr Sashanka Dutta of Just be Friendly (JBF), an animal welfare trust.
Although JBF in association with the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), the nodal agency for tackling such activities, did start a sterilisation and vaccination drive in the capital city, things have come to an end for reasons best known to those at the helm of affairs.
During the drive which started in 2012-13, and continued till 2014-15, as many as 6,126 stray dogs were neutered and vaccinated. However, for some strange reasons, the drive could not be continued.
The JBF had also done a sample survey on dog population (census) on head count basis with a radius of 10 square kilometres with the city’s Survey area being the focal point. During the survey done in 2009, 3,000 dogs were found in the area of survey alone.
“Today even if the 1: 40 ratio is taken into account, Guwahati alone would have more than 30,000 dogs on the roads,” Dr Dutta said, adding that the JBF has till date performed sterilisation on nearly 15,000 dogs, which includes those done in association with the GMC.
Records in the GMCH state that between May 2015 and May 2016, as many as 5,991 cases of dog bites were reported in the hospital. As far as the MMCH is concerned, 7,010 Rabipur injections were administered in the last six months starting from January, 2016. Additional Superintendent of MMCH Dr Madhab Rajbangsi opined that in most cases the scene of event was Guwahati.
“Only 81 out of 7,010 doses were given to patients living outside Kamrup (Metro),” Dr Rajbangsi pointed out.
“The GMC, which is the nodal agency, is ill-equipped to handle the problem faced by the Guwahatians. It even does not have a dog squad or a pound (shelter home) for dogs unlike many other states which are facing similar problems. There is a Supreme Court order on dog bites which the State does not adhere to at all,” an animal lover rued.