SRINAGAR: With the number of dog bite case on the rise, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has roped in an agency from Rajasthan for carrying out mass sterilisation of dogs to control the rising canine population here.
While the exact dog population of Srinagar at present is not known, as per the last dog census conducted in 2011, there were more than 90,000 canines in a city of 1.2 million. Experts believe the number might have doubled in the past 12 years.
The number of dog attacks is also on the rise in the city.
“The problem is that the number of dogs is more than the human population in Kashmir. Last evening, stray dogs chased to bite my daughter,” Firdous Ahmad, a resident of Tankipora area of the city, said.
He said while earlier only children and elderly were vulnerable to dog attacks, now even young adults are being attacked.
Municipal authorities say sterilisation of the canines is the only option left to control their population as traditional methods like poisoning have been outlawed.
“To sterilise such huge population of dogs, we have outsourced our ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme. We have hired an agency from Rajashtan which will sterilise the canines,” Dr Tawheed Najar, in-charge of the ABC programme, at the SMC told PTI.
He said a fresh census of the dog population was underway to know its exact number in the city as the last such exercise was held in 2011.
“We have hired an agency for the conduct of fresh census of dog population. It will shortly submit its report,” Najar said.
More than 6,200 cases of dog bites have been reported in the past 10 months at just one of the four tertiary care hospitals — the SMHS hospital in the city.
“We usually see 20 to 30 patients per day of dog bite cases. During last 10 years, there is an increasing trend in dog bite cases. Although there was a slight decline during the COVID-19 lockdown, overall the trend is increasing every year,” Dr Abdul Hamid, head of the anti-rabies centre at SMHS hospital, said.
Najar said there were multiple reasons for the seemingly high canine population in the city.
“Dogs are highly proliferating. They reproduce twice a year with six to eight pubs in each litter. It also depends upon the caring capacity of society. Our habitat is non-vegetarian and they feed on garbage which is also one of the reasons of their increasing population,” he said.
He said there was only one centre for carrying out sterilisation earlier, but now two more centres are being added.
“We had only one centre here for sterilisation and capacity was five to 10 surgeries per day. Now we are planning to expand our activities and establish two more centers in Srinagar city,” Najar said.
“We have to continuously sterlise 70 per cent of the dog population for two to three years so that we can reduce dog population,” he added.
The problem is not limited to Srinagar city but most urban areas of Kashmir.
Shabir Malik, a resident of Pampore town in Pulwama district, said his son had barely stepped out his house when he was attacked by dogs.
“My son ventured out of the home. After 15 minutes, he was brought back bathed in blood…I bought him to Pampore hospital but they referred me to Srinagar for treatment,” Malik said.
He said the administration is not taking any measures to control the dog menace.
“We fear for our kids. When they go out we don’t know whether they will come back alive or not,” he said, staring at the injured face of his son.