ABDULLA KHAN | NT
VALPOI: As per statistics from the Community Health Centre (CHC), Valpoi, more than 30 people are being bitten by stray dogs every month in Sattari taluka out of which 5 to 10 cases on an average are reported from Valpoi.
The number of victims may be high as the statistics do not include victims who undergo treatment at private clinics in Valpoi.
The drive for sterilisation of dogs by Valpoi Municipal Council (VMC) has proved futile, as there is a rapid rise in the population of stray dogs mostly in ward 7, ward 9 and ward 10.
Farida, a resident of Sayyadnagar said, “The children in our locality cannot go out to play due to fear of stray dogs. They cannot go alone for tuition classes in the area due to the stray dog menace.”
Citing reasons of the garbage treatment plant in the vicinity, another parent said that many stray dogs are found roaming in the area and feasting on garbage dumped near the site.
Residents have alleged that the VMC undertook a sterilisation drive and the dogs were brought left again near the garbage treatment plant. Hence, there is a sharp rise in the number of stray dogs.
According to VMC, they can only sterilise dogs and then leave them in their area where the dogs were found. Though, VMC confidently says that the sterilisation drive was done in collaboration with some NGO’s in the year 2015, no proper record has been maintained as to the number of dogs sterilised.
Meanwhile, residents have demanded the construction of a dog pound to tackle the stray dog menace. VMC chairperson Ramdas Shirodkar said, “The control of stray dog population is a challenge. A bigger challenge has now emerged with a sharp rise in the number of dog bite cases.”
Stray dogs continue to haunt Sattari, as authorities have failed to take necessary steps to curb the menace, claim residents.
“My cat was brutally killed by a stray dog recently. There is no control over the rapid rise of stray dogs on the streets,” said Rahat Shaikh a resident of Valpoi.
“The growing stray dog population has also led to a surge in the number of accidents involving two-wheelers,” said Nazir Khan.
As per official records at CHC Valpoi, in 2014-2015 (till February 2015) 442 cases of animal bite cases were reported out of which 87 per cent were dog bites. However, health officials say the actual figure could be very high, as people generally prefer private clinics and hospitals rather than government hospitals.
Another startling fact was that the veterinary department has procured 230 anti-rabies vaccines out of which less than 100 dog owners have vaccinated ‘anti-rabies’ vaccines to their pets. However in the year 2015 more than 10 cases of rabies were reported in Valpoi.
“We have sufficient stock of vaccines, but very few dog owners vaccinate their pets” said a veterinary official Sirish Betkekar.
According to a source at VMC, there is no animal welfare organisation in Valpoi. However, the council earlier had an agreement with the International Animal Rescue, Assagao for vaccination of stray dogs within VMC jurisdiction. Later the organisation refused to renew the agreement due to non availability of veterinary doctors.
When contacted the VMC chairperson, Ramdas Shirodkar stated that due to fund crunch the municipality could not go ahead with the vaccination of stray dogs, adding that the municipality has no solution in hand.
The lack of coordination amongst the municipality, the Animal Husbandry Department and the NGOs has led to an increase in the population of stray dogs. Many a times, the issue was a priority at municipal council meetings in the past, but except for assurances, no thought was given for any concrete policy to control the stray dog menace.
Meanwhile a few prominent citizens have suggested that, the street dogs must be sterilised and immunised with active participation of animal welfare organisations and local authorities. They said that a monitoring committee must be set up consisting of officials from the local authority, a representatives of CHC, Animal Welfare Department, a veterinary doctor and representatives of NGO’s who will be responsible for planning and management of the stray dog population.