Fears of Stray dogs haunt Srinagar Citizens

Srinagar: Already wounded Srinagar city, now a days is also facing the wrath of an unusual enemy-the stray dogs.

Resentment is brewing among the Srinagarites against the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for failing to curb the dog menace. “The stray dog population has witnessed manifold increase in various areas including city-centre Lal Chowk. Bemina, Qamarwari, Batmalloo, Rawalpora, Khaniyar, Razikadal, Jawaharnagar, Padshahibag and other parts of the city from the last one month,” people from these areas informed KNS.

They said that the canines have been storming streets, chasing cars, pulling down bicycle riders and often attacking pedestrians.

The reports said that in some cases, even security forces patrolling the streets have become their target.

Health authorities say that above 50000 people - mostly children - have been bitten by stray dogs in the past four years and even revealed that some of the victims have died of rabies.

Records at Srinagar's Anti-Rabies Clinic show 12 dog bite-related deaths in the five years alone.

However the Municipal authorities blame people for the dog menace. “People throw food packets on the streets. Dogs come to eat. When someone tries to clear it, they bite. There is a need to keep the premises clean,” one of the officials of the SMC Srinagar said.

Habibi-ullha of Bemina told KNS that there were dozens of dogs troubling children and elderly people in his colony who walk on the road.“They bark and try to attack people. Last month, my son and I had a narrow escape during a walk. The number of stray dogs is increasing here,” he said.

The local residents claimed here that, a 12-year-old boy is one of the latest victims.

Shabir Ahmad, who rescued the boy from the dogs, said “the attack was "extremely terrible. On Sundayevening, he was attacked by almost six stray dogs, biting him nearly 7 times,” he said.

The danger is real, warns one of the senior doctors in SMHS. “On our side we are quick at providing anti-rabies drugs to hospitals and anti-rabies clinics but municipal authorities must act,” he said.

A count by the municipality found more than 90,000 stray dogs in Srinagar city. There has been no survey in the rest of the valley, where dog bite cases outnumber those in Srinagar.

Unofficial estimates put the number of dogs in the valley at more than a million, triggering fears of increasing dog-man conflict in the next few years if the dog population is not checked.

Caught between animal rights activists, who believe that the stray dogs should be sterilised, and irate residents, who want the dogs to be killed, the city's municipality over the years has been grasping for a solution.

It is to mention here that SMC had signed an agreement with SKUAST under which 5000 surgeries of canines were being conducted at first place.

Sources said that there are around 2000 dog bite cases reported from Srinagar City alone every year and symptoms of rabies are usually non-specific and suggest involvement of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or central nervous systems.

The health experts have already cautioned over the dog bites saying in the acute stage, signs of hyperactivity (furious rabies) or paralysis (dumb rabies) are predominate.

Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation was not available for the comments. (KNS)

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