The number of stray dogs in Chennai has come down by 25,000, according to the Greater Chennai Corporation's latest stray census. But data available at the government hospitals in the city shows that the number of people getting anti-rabies vaccinations after dog bites increased from 39,000 in 2016-17 to 57,000 in 2017-18.
Refuting this, the corporation insisted that the census gives the real picture of the situation and that its animal birth control programme has been effective.
According to a report, the dog census was carried out using an app developed by the civic body. Four workers covered roads under each division, an official was quoted as saying. "The work would start by 7.30 am when two workers would map dogs along a road. They photographed all the dogs they came across and entered details such as pup or adult, lactating mother, sterilized or not," said a health department official.
Residents of several areas said that although there may not have been an increase in the dog population, there is no decrease. Residents of Kodambakkam, Mogappair, Vadapalani, and Ambattur said that dogs often chased bikers at night.
A resident of Perungudi said there has been an increase in the number of dogs. "As per an RTI reply received two years ago, there were 1.5 lakh stray dogs in the city. So the number of 57,000-plus is not true. There should be around 2 lakh stray dogs," he said.
He added that the Corporation was not carrying out an intensified animal birth control programme, involving NGOs, as per the rules of the sterilisation programme.
An official from the health department commented on this: "We have sterilized more than 8,000 dogs this year and each day there is a set target to catch 100 dogs."
"The increase in anti-rabies vaccination could be because of more awareness and it is not confirmed that all bites were from stray dogs," he added.