A dog is considered to be man's best friend, but there is, unfortunately, a dark side to having dogs on the streets
GUWAHATI: With the stray dog population multiplying rapidly, the number of people being bitten by stray dogs is on the rise in the capital city Guwahati. On average, Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) receives around 50 cases of dog bites in a month.
It is not possible to practically count the number of stray dogs in the city. In 2018, Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) authorities claimed that there were about 20,000 stray dogs on the city roads. The figure may have gone up in these years. It is estimated that the ratio is 1:40 – which means one dog for every 40 humans –that comes to about 30,000 to 40,000 stray dogs in the city.
Earlier, the GMC used to kill stray dogs but after 1992, it became illegal for municipalities to kill stray dogs. The only option before the GMC is sterilization.
"We have been carrying out Animal Birth Control and Anti-Rabies Vaccination camp to control the population growth of stray dogs in collaboration with an NGO- Just be Friendly (JBF) and providing anti-rabies treatment to the stray dogs," said a GMC official. The NGO picks up stray dogs from a particular location and brings them to their centre to perform birth control operation. After 5-7 days of recovery, they release the dog back to its original location after giving a dose of anti-rabies medicine. An estimated 4,500 stray dogs have been performed such birth control operation and provided anti-rabies doses, sources said.
However, the efforts to control the spread of rabies among stray dogs have been unsuccessful due to the irregular flow of government funds. "Funding is very less and it is not possible to reach out to all the dogs in the city. We have not covered the total number we had expected to by now," said an official of an NGO, which has been running such rabies vaccination drive in the city.
As long as exposed garbage and slums continue to exist, dog-killing programmes cannot work. They only create an unstable, constantly changing, rapidly multiplying and rabies carrying dog population. Rabies continues to spread to humans since none of the dogs is vaccinated. Rabies continues to spread because the dog-catchers are reluctant to pick up a rabid dog, so only healthy dogs get killed.
A dog is considered to be man's best friend, but there is, unfortunately, a dark side to having dogs on the streets. Dogs are the most common carrier of infection. Dog fights increase, since every time a new dog enters a territory he is attacked by the dogs already in the neighbourhood. Dog fights continue to take place over mating. Dog bites also increase, as during dog fights many humans get accidentally bitten. Females with pups to protect may also be aggressive and bite people who approach their litter. Barking and howling invariably take place over mating.