Dog Bite Cases Bite Govt’s Response

by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: As the dog bite cases continue to rise, the government’s claims to address the issue also continue to fall at the same pace.

The latest numbers of dog bite cases of the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, reveals that 58,869 persons were bitten by the dogs in the last ten years in Kashmir. In the last decade, an average of 16 dog bite cases were reported per day.

Fayaz Ahmad, 30, a resident of Srinagar is constantly in fear of barking dogs chasing or biting him as he commutes from Buchpora to Lal Chowk every day.

Late evening, every day when he travels back to his home on the bike, his fear is aggravated as he has to face prowling dogs at several places.

“I worry every day about meeting an accident. Or even being pounced upon by a pack,” Ahmad said.

“There are uncountable numbers of them from Khanyar to Islamia College.”

Danish Ahmed, 24, a resident of old city’s Khanyar was bitten in both legs by a bitch.

“When she bit my legs, I felt as if a needle was inserted in my calves. I got frozen for a moment and couldn’t react. I ended by shouting for help, and I kicked her to save myself from further mauling,” he said, adding that he was wreathing in pain and swelling for days following the bite.

Wreathing in pain, he rushed to the hospital and was instructed to wash his wounds for almost fifteen minutes before giving first aid.

“I am thankful she was not rabid. She was overprotective about her puppies.”

Subsequently, he received almost two dozen injections at SMHS and was vaccinated and given immunoglobulins.

He said that if it was a child instead of him, the bites would have been lethal.

The news of dog bite soon created a panic in the neighbourhood and everyone irrespective of age stopped going from the route.

“I still fear at the sight of any dog and I avoid that route now,” he said.

Danish blames both neighbourhood and municipality for “disproportionate” dog population and feeding them “recklessly”.

“They end up becoming a nuisance for the ones who feed them,” he said adding that the local municipality should transport the growing dog population to other less populated areas, where human habitation is also less.

Another Srinagar resident said that the dogs are on the prowl early in the morning and late evening.

“Old people who go out to buy bread in the morning are scared, so are children who have to attend tuitions, or people going for morning walks,” the resident said.

He said morning walkers are usually seen with a stick in hand to avert any dangers during summers.

Dr Salim Khan Head Community Medicines Department SMHS hospital said Kashmiri people are dog-loving population as they feed high protein food to them.

“Dogs in Kashmir look like lions as compared to other cities where they look starved. The municipality has to play the biggest role in regulating wastes generated from homes and food outlets on which these dogs thrive. Unless we sterilise dogs on a fast track, there would be an increase in the dog population, at an uncontrollable rate,” he said.

According to him, on average, the anti-rabies clinic reports 6000 dog bite cases each year.

Kashmir Health, a YouTube channel created by the Department of Community Medicines with support of National Health Mission reveals there are more than one lakh dogs in the city.

The majority of cases are being reported in summer capital Srinagar. As per the anti-rabies clinic at SMHS hospital, 42, 518 cases of dog bites were reported in Srinagar from 2017-2019 which constituted 80 per cent of the total cases.

Pertinent to mention, last year, on December 08, Abdul Majeed Rather a noted lawyer of Baramulla died after being severely mauled by a pack of stray dogs during his routine morning walk after morning prayers.  In the attack Rather was bitten on his leg, face and back by the stray dogs that resulted in his death due to multi-organ failure.

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