Growing canine population increases cases of dog-bites in Kashmir

Growing canine population increases cases of dog-bites in Kashmir
File Pic: Aman Farooq/ GK

Srinagar, May 9: Between April 2022 to March 2023, Kashmir saw 6855 dog bite cases reported at the Anti-Rabies Clinic (ARC) at SMHS Hospital here. The growing population of dogs in Kashmir has increased the incidence of dog bites over the years, although no official figures for comparison were available.

Data procured from Anti-Rabies Clinic at SMHS Hospital shows that Srinagar district is the worst affected withy dog bites. The district with 17 lakh population, according to the last census, has had 4912 people suffering dog bites between April 2022 and March 2023. This accounts for over 70 percent of cases of canine bites in Kashmir. On an average, over 13 people suffer dog bites every day in district Srinagar.

In the 12 months between January 2022 and December 2022, 4695 dog bite cases were registered at the ARC. On the face value, there appears to be nearly 50 percent increase in reported cases, however, experts believe that the data needs more details as many dog bite cases are now currently being tackled at Anti Rabies Clinics at new medical colleges in north and south Kashmir. There is a clear spike, although the rise could be higher than what figures reveal.

The increase in dog bite cases points towards the increase in the number of dogs in Kashmir. The last dog census in Kashmir was carried out in 2011, where the number of stray dogs in Kashmir was estimated to be 90,000. For the past 12 years, no count of stray dogs has taken place in Kashmir. A dog is estimated to give birth to 10-12 puppies in a year, while their reproductive years are around 10 years. This, by experts' estimates means, a female dog produces a litter of at least 100 puppies in life lifetime, although the survival rate is low for strays.

The incidence of dog bites increases during the reproductive season. The ARC data shows that the dog bite cases increase in March and October every year, corresponding to the season when the dogs give birth. While in April 2022, 256 dog bite cases were reported in Srinagar, in March 2023, 621 dog bite cases were reported in April 2023. In October, 493 cases were reported in Srinagar.

Dr S Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HoD Community Medicine Government Medical College Srinagar told Greater Kashmir that dogs breed and reproduce in streets and get aggressive while protecting their young ones. “As the number of dogs grows, the number of dog bites are expected to grow,” he said. In addition to dog bite cases, 1178 cases of cat bites have also been reported at the ARC. He said that the only sustainable solution to the issue of dog bite cases was Animal Birth Control.

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