Karnataka stray dog population, a matter of concern

These are just some stray dog attack cases that have come to light, while a majority go unreported.

Published: 12th December 2022 03:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th December 2022 03:10 AM   |  A+A-

Stray Dogs

Image used for representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Last week, a 12-year-old girl was attacked by stray dogs in Belagavi when she was returning from school, a three-year-old boy was killed by a pack of stray dogs in Bhadravathi, a girl was attacked in Purale of Shivamogga and a child got 15 stitches on its neck in Gadag after bitten by street dogs.

These are just some stray dog attack cases that have come to light, while a majority go unreported. Incidents of street dogs attacking people, especially women and children and bikers riding late at night, have increased across the state. Experts and officials from the animal husbandry department blame improper execution of the anti-birth control programme (ABC). Even as many NGOs are keen to carry out the exercise on behalf of municipal corporations, improper allocation of funds is deterring it, they say.

A report by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in New Delhi states that the country this year has seen 250 deaths due to rabies and most of them are from Karnataka at 32. The report said that some victims died despite taking the anti-rabies vaccine. While 20,000 Indians have died because of rabies, 60 per cent are children below 15 years of age. The National Rabies Control Programme has been implemented across India, except in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep, the ministry added.

Experts pointed out that the tussle between animal lovers and city corporations is the other reason for the rise in stray dog population and dog attacks. There have also been clashes between those who feed animals and others. The concept of issuing animal feeder cards to animal lovers started in 2012, but many are not aware of it. The card gives the licence to citizens to feed dogs, but those who do not have it and feed dogs can be stopped and reported to the municipality. 

The cards are issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India, but the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) does not have a database on the number of such animal lovers in the city. In other parts of Karnataka, including Hassan, Kolar and Chikkaballapur, no cards have been issued. In places like Madikeri, however, feeders are helping the municipality catch dogs for the ABC programme.

To address the issue of clashes between government agencies, animal right activists, feeders and citizens, the state government is working on strengthening the Stop Cruelty to Animals (STCA) campaign, where feeders and other stakeholders will be given cases to handle in specific areas to ensure that the dog population is under control.

Dr Pervez Piran, former joint director, Animal Husbandry Department, told TNIE that to control the menace, it is important to ensure that there is no gap. “Even if three males are missed it is fine, every female should be captured for the ABC programme. The animal feeders should be used as a network for the programme as animals have already built a trust with them. But the dedication among officials is missing,” he added.

Catching and neutering stray dogs is not easy but with the cooperation of all, it can be done, he said. Citizens, including feeders, play a crucial role in capturing and neutering the animals and it does not require big infrastructure. “The process that was followed earlier can be replicated. A dog is captured, neutered and released in the same place. This ensures that their territory is not disturbed and the population is also under control, ensuring a lesser number of conflicts,” he explained.

Another activist, working with the BBMP and state government in the ABC programme, said many people allow dogs to take shelter in their homes when dog capture vehicles arrive and this should not be allowed. The problem is also because while the area of the city has increased, the programme has not. “The focus of the ABC programme is only in around 800 sqkm area, while new wards and expanding boundaries have not been covered and the problem is increasing in newer areas. A similar problem persists in neighbouring districts too. While subadult and adult dogs have boundaries, puppies, juveniles and females wander to newer places, increasing the population,” he said.

Animal activists said dogs wandering into forests and attacking wild animals is increasing which is a cause of concern. Stray dogs attacking peafowls or spotted deer have been seen in forests around Bengaluru. Many municipalities too are to be blamed as they are catching dogs and releasing them into the forest endangering the wildlife. Such incidents have been reported from Dandeli and Chamarajanagar. In Kolar and Chikkaballapur, street dogs are increasingly attacking cattle, while in Belagavi, 20 street dogs attacked and killed 12 sheep.

BBMP said Bengaluru has 1.5 lakh street dogs as per the 2019 survey report, while the numbers have not been updated over the last two years because of the pandemic.

Ravi Kumar, Joint Director, BBMP, Animal Husbandry, said that on an average, around 600 dogs are vaccinated for anti-rabies every month, while four dogs are captured for ABC every day. He said that as per a Supreme Court order, those who feed the animals should also take care of them (vaccinate and sterilize). But that is not happening. The BBMP has been able to sterilise only 71 per cent of the dog population, but this is less compared to their breeding cycles. Only a few adopt local breed dogs, he pointed out.

From April till October 2022, 28,341 dogs have undergone ABC programme, while 52,635 have been vaccinated for rabies. For this period, no dog bite deaths have been reported, while 17,610 dog bite cases have been registered. Also, 3,217 dog rescue calls have been made to BBMP and NGOs, states the BBMP report.

According to the Madikeri City Municipal Council, over 600 stray dogs have been spayed, while strays are being given anti-rabies injections. While the issue is being addressed scientifically in Madikeri, it is not the case in other parts of the district. Whenever rabid dog bite cases are reported, panchayats go on dog-catching drives. Since they are not done ethically and with proper equipment, they are opposed by animal activists. In many places, citizens themselves are taking care of strays.

There is no stray dog problem in Mysuru city, claimed Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Health Officer DG Nagaraj. The MCC dog squad attends to public complaints round the clock. The MCC is also setting up a dog park on a five-acre plot at Rayanakere on HD Kote Road on the city outskirts. It will have the latest medical facilities and also a shelter for stray dogs. Veterinarians from NGOs conduct around 20 ABC operations per day, he added.

Activists blame the city municipal corporation for catching strays and releasing them into the wild last year. But now, nearly 20 per cent of those dogs have returned to the city. The stray dog population is said to be high at Pension Mohalla, Hosaline Road, Ring Road, Vallabhai Road and Tanniru Halla. Last year, 52 people, including 31 children, were bitten by stray dogs last year, said CMC officials. Hassan City Municipality president Mohan said the CMC is planning a special drive to catch stray dogs.

Dakshina Kannada has reported 15,649 cases of dog bites from January till November this year. District Health Officer Dr Kishore Kumar said they have been giving ARV for all dog bite cases and this year no rabid dog bite have been reported. As a precautionary measure, all bites are assumed to be rabid because most symptoms develop after three or four months.

Suma R Nayak, trustee, Animal Care Trust, Mangaluru said, the stray dog problem isn’t big but it is not being handled properly by the authorities. A systematic process should be followed to solve the problem. Few local bodies take interest and many panchayats have stopped the drive, citing lack of funds. Irresponsible pet owners leave puppies on the roads without sterilising the mother which adds to the problem, she said.

Several incidents of stray dog attacks on humans and animals have been reported across Belagavi district over the last one year. Varun Karkhanis, founder, Belgaum Animal Welfare Association, said Belagavi city has over 15,000 stray dogs. If the authorities continue the ABC programme without breaks, the menace will be eradicated, he added. Dr Sanjay Dumgol, Health Officer, Belagavi City Corporation, said the contract for sterilising stray dogs has been given to Bengaluru-based NGO ‘Care for Voiceless’. He said the implementation of ABC is slow and it will take five to seven years to control the dog population.

Shivamogga City Corporation Commissioner Mayanna Gowda said the corporation spends Rs 5-6 lakh every year for the ABC programme, where 500-600 stray dogs are neutered. Many stray dogs are coming from rural and adjacent areas into the city as they find easy food. The ABC programme should be carried out continuously for two years in all city corporations and gram panchayat to tackle the problem. A census conducted 5-6 years ago revealed that there were 4,000 stray dogs. From January to October 2022, 15,810 dog bite cases were reported in the district.

Dog bite incidents are rampant in Kalaburagi city as a large population of stray dogs is found in many localities, including Mominpura, Darga, Hagarga, Aiwan-E-Shahi Road and Gazipura.

Kalaburagi Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Bhuvanesh Patil said the city has around 4,000 stray dogs and of them, 1,200 have been sterilised. Maharashtra-based Azad organisation is conducting the ABC programme. District Surgeon Dr Ambaraya Rudrawadi said from April to December, 10,939 people have been treated for dog bites. The highest number of 266 cases was reported in Chittapur taluk in November, said District Health Officer Dr Rajashekhar Male.

The Gadag-Betageri twin city is facing the stray dog problem in Hamalara Colony, which has witnessed 11 dog bite cases in one month. An official from Gadag Betageri Municipal Council said, “We have collected information about the stray dog problem in some areas and it will be sent to higher officials. We will address the issue at the earliest”.

Kolar and Chikkaballapur
Stray dog attacks on people and cattle are increasing in Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts. A majority of stray dogs are being vaccinated by private doctors. K Jayaraman, a pharmacist, said that as compared to previous years, the sale of anti-rabies vaccine Rabipur has increased four times this year.

(Inputs from- Bosky Khanna- Bengaluru, Pragna G R- Madikeri, BK Lakshmikanth- Mysuru,   Udaykumar- Hassan, Divya Cutinho- Mangaluru, Tushar A MajukXar- Belagavi, Arpitha I- Shivamogga, Ramakrishna Badsheshi- Kalaburagi, Raghottam Koppar- Gadag, Velayudham- Kolar)


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