As dog bite cases increase, sterilization facilities not functioning in Kashmir

The killing of an 8-year-old boy by the stray dogs in south Kashmir’s Pulwama on Saturday has again brought the spotlight on the growing dog menace in Kashmir. And, as the dogs continue to maim people, the dog sterilization center at SKUAST Shuhama remains defunct, while another at Srinagar remains incomplete.

As per a recent report by the department of community medicines, GMC Srinagar, 58,869 dog bite cases have been reported in Kashmir since 2011.

More than two years back, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) started work on a major dog sterilization facility at Tengpora, Srinagar, under Animal birth control and anti rabies project, but the project is yet to complete.

SMC veterinary officer, Dr. Javaid Ahmed said the work on the facility was hampered due to COVID lockdown. “But it will resume soon,” he said.

“There is some internal work pending which will be completed soon as the contracts have been allotted for the remaining work. The majority of the work of the center has been finished,” he said.

In 2013, SMC in collaboration with SKAUST Shauhama set up a dog sterilization center at Shuhama, however the center is defunct since December last year.

An official at the facility said that the center cannot stand the cold climatic conditions of Kashmir and hence had to shut as the mercury dipped in December last year. “There are many loopholes in the project: first, the building is not constructed as per the standard to meet the harsh climatic conditions in Kashmir. Last time authorities sent some engineers at the facility so that it can be upgraded and operations run round the year but nothing was done on the ground,” he said.

He said: “The facility has a capacity of sterilizing 20 dogs per day but unfortunately it has never been used even to that capacity. When SMC is barely able to get 10 dogs per day, how can 20 be sterilized?”

“Recently SKAUST had got two Vets on job but when the flow of dogs was less than 10 dogs per day, only one Vet was retained,” the official said wishing anonymity.

When contacted, Head of the Shuhama Sterilization center Dr. H.U Malik said that due to freezing temperatures, they had to close down the center in December last year. He said that they are opening it again in a week or so.

“From 2019 the center could not function smoothly first after Article 370 abrogation in 2019 August and later due to COVID lockdown. In late 2020 it had started to function, but due to harsh climatic conditions we had to shut it down again,” Malik said.

As per the data over 30,000 dog bite cases have been reported in SMHS alone in the past five years.

With no check on the growing dog population the threat across Kashmir looms large. Hospitals, markets, school vicinities and garbage dumping sites are the most vulnerable spots. In 2018, a 6-year old kid was mauled to death by dogs in North Kashmir’s Sopore and after over two years there is no change in situation.