BENGALURU : A rising stray dog menace in most government hospitals across Bengaluru has caused much inconvenience to doctors, patients and their attendants forcing them to constantly be scared to walk or sleep in the hospital premises. A City Express check revealed that there is at least one case of dog bite every alternate day in most of these hospitals. The hospitals we visited were Bowring Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Kidwai Institute of Oncology. There have been reports from other hospitals like Vani Vilas Hospital and Minto Hospital as well.
Patients and their attendees claim that stray animals roam freely at hospital premises and many claim that these dogs are always in packs and are scared to even shoo them away. Sangeetha Nagashekar, a patient’s wife who had come from Nelamangala to Victoria Hospital, said that there are times when dogs roam freely even in the wards. She added that she reported this to the duty nurses there but in vain.
“We literally have to see where there are no dogs and sit there when we are outside the ward. I have a three-year-old daughter who keeps playing out, and twice, she has been chased. Thankfully, I was around. What if something happens to my child? We complained, but nothing has changed,” she said.
Meanwhile, another caretaker of a patient at KC General, said, “My mother and I used to take turns to stay awake at night to take care of my six-year-old son as we were told that one dog pulled a boy from the basement of this hospital and killed him,” she added.
There were many who told CE that it becomes extremely difficult to move from one department to another as the stray dogs were roaming around with nobody to stop them. “It is not only patients but we doctors also have to face the brunt. Three of my colleagues have been bitten by dogs. It is really a big issue. Must be sorted as early as possible,” said a doctor from Kidwai.
While the authorities at hospitals accept that the number of stray dogs in the premises has gone up and has become a menace, they claim that they are clueless as to what has to be done to curb the menace.
“We are trying our best to ensure that no food is thrown in the open and the premises is kept as clean as possible. We also have instructed our guards and staff to keep a close watch on the places where dogs roam around as packs, but there is at least one incident every alternate day,” said the regional medical officer at Kidwai on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, a senior doctor at Victoria Hospital said, “The corporation, CUPA or any other NGOs also express helplessness as a court order does not allow them to relocate dogs from one place to another. We are told sterilisation is the only option. But what about the existing dogs? How to control them?”
At most hospitals, the staff has been instructed to keep a close watch and not allow any dogs near children or the aged. The authorities also reiterated that the hospital authorities have sought help from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to check the stray animal menace.
Corporation clueless too
Speaking to CE, the newly appointed Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun expressed concern about the increase in the number of stray dogs on the hospital premises, but said there’s nothing other than sterilisation that the department could do. “I agree that there are dog bite cases that are going up and the stray dog population in hospitals is definitely a menace. But other than implementing strict ABC (animal birth control) programmes, there’s nothing much that can be done in these cases.
Our hands are tied too,” she said. She promised to ensure that the dogs in each of these hospital premises are taken for sterilisation and then left back in the same place. “I will ask the authorities to double check if all dogs are sterilised. Many times dogs escape when the catchers go there but I will tell them to revisit the place and see if all dogs are sterilised,” the mayor added.
Sterilising dogs the only option?
Harini Raghavan, a dog lover and a founding member of Citizens for Animal Birth Control, said, “The only best option is to implement ABC at these hospital premises. Once the sterilisation definitely happens, the chances of dogs turning into alphas reduces. Even if there is one alpha dog, it will lead the pack to attack. Sterilisation mellows them down and there won’t be any attacks. They definitely can’t be relocated,” she said.