Chew on this: Every hour, 11 Mumbaikars are bitten by strays

Updated: Dec 16, 2016, 08:39 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Following two incidents in two days of stray dogs savaging children, mid-day obtained city-wide data on dog bites from the BMC. The figures revealed that 80,000 people suffer annually

The stray dog that had viciously attacked a 12-year-old girl in Vasai on Thursday
The stray dog that had viciously attacked a 12-year-old girl in Vasai on Thursday

A dog may be considered man's best friend, but, believe it or not, around 270 people in Mumbai get bitten by strays daily on an average. In the past five years, more than 4 lakh dog-bite cases have been recorded in the city. But the city has only two anti-rabies centres to treat victims of dog bite.

While veterinarians have continued to demand more dog-catching centres and anti-rabies centres in suburban areas, the real picture is pretty pathetic — only 12 of the 24 wards have catching vans.

Painful numbers
Though the number of cases recorded in 2015 (82,274) is less than those in 2012 (80,934), officials say the reality may be different as many prefer to undergo treatment in private hospitals that don't have any official aggregated data.

The city needs more dog-catching centres, veterinarians have said. Representational pic
The city needs more dog-catching centres, veterinarians have said. Representational pic

And yet, Mumbai has only two anti-rabies centres, one each in KEM and Sion hospitals. The situation is more severe in suburban areas, where even state-run hospitals, such as Thane civic hospital and CIDCO, don't have such centres, resulting in the existing two getting choked with patients.

"In BMC health meetings, officers always raise the need to start more number of anti-rabies centres in suburban areas where the cases are more. Most of the dog-catching centres are in South Mumbai, leaving Borivli and Virar neglected. There is too much irregularity," said Dr Khanna, dean of veterinary hospital, Parel.

mid-day's report on Thursday
mid-day's report on Thursday

What docs say
Last month, a 16-year-old boy from Byculla was taken to JJ hospital after a stray dog tore off his skin. "He was playing with his friends, when the ball hit a dog. The animal got aggressive and started running behind him. He got scared and threw stones at it. The dog then got angrier and bite him so badly that it tore the skin off his left hand," said Dr Suresh Nandi.

Dr Santosh Revankar, who heads the dog cell in BMC, said, "If you see our records, the number of cases has gone down. Earlier, we had only four NGOs working in Malad, Bandra, Mahalaxmi and Mulund. But now, we have two more responsible for rescuing and sterilising dogs."

mid-day's report on Wednesday
mid-day's report on Wednesday

Canine chaos
As per an approximate number provided by the BMC, the population of dogs has increased to 1.5 lakh in the city, whereas only 1 lakh dogs were sterilised last year in Mumbai. The menace is more in suburban areas where the highest number of cases is recorded.

As per experts, sterilisation helps in soothing down the animals. "When a bitch is sterilised, her progesterone doesn't get discharged; hence, her sexual desire is limited. This helps in making the animal docile. Similarly, sterilising a dog is removing his testicles. So, this helps in controlling his sexual desire as well as his temper," said Dr Khanna. "Hence, there is a need to sterilise more of them and in uniform ways."

72,904
Number of dog-bite cases
recorded this year till Oct

2,45,905
No of anti-rabies injection recorded this year till Oct

200
No. of dog-bite cases KEM hospital records every month

Dog-bite cases
82,274 in 2012
81,716 in 2013
83,274 in 2014
80,934 in 2015

Anti-rabies injections
2,75,530 in 2012
2,75,590 in 2013
2,81,269 in 2014
2,62,398 in 2015

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