Barking dogs never bite? In Srinagar they do (Feature)July 13th, 2011 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS
Srinagar, July 13 (IANS) Residents in this Jammu and Kashmir capital literally watch their step when stepping out — for fear of stray dogs that bite people, attack livestock and create havoc. The government appears clueless on how to tackle the menace.
“During the last 12 days, over 60 people have been here in the hospital with dog bites,” a doctor at the city’s SMGS Hospital said.
The stray dog population in this city of 1.4 million human beings has been rising at an alarming rate, reaching over 100,000 in the last four years if animal rights activists are to be believed.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was also moved in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court nearly six months ago seeking directions for the state authorities to handle the growing population of stray dogs in the city.
“The government pleaded before the honourable court that the dog population of the city would soon be sterilised. Upon this, the presiding judge told government counsel ‘would the dogs not bite after being sterilized’?” said a lawyer who has been keenly following the case.
Khurshid Mir, an agricultural graduate who works for a pest control organization, had offered to rid the city of the menace provided the government extended him the required financial and infrastructural support.
“I have heard nothing from them since I last met the divisional commissioner. Perhaps they did not take my offer seriously,” Mir told IANS.
A senior official at the provincial headquarters said the government did not have a mechanism to negotiate with such a person.
“Offers would have to be invited and how can the government negotiate with somebody who makes a claim that has never been tested?” the official said when asked about the proposal by the pest controller.
Bashir Ahmad, 54, a businessman, said: “The city’s biggest handicap while handling the growing dog population is legal restrictions imposed on poisoning stray dogs.
“In the past, the municipal authorities would administer poison to stray dogs over periodic intervals to keep their population under check. That option having been ruled out, sterilization, relocation, etc, would not check the menace,” Ahmad said.
Residents of Srinagar city are complaining of the serious threats the stray dogs pose to them.
“We have to guard our children from being bitten on the streets which are heavily infested with stray dogs. Even going to the mosque at dawn and dusk for prayers involves a definite risk of being bitten by dogs,” said Showkat Ahmad, 62, a retired senior engineer.
People living in the suburbs accuse the municipal authorities of clandestinely shifting scores of dogs to the suburbs to reduce their numbers in the city.
“Scores of dogs which were not there till the other day are moving freely in our village these days. These dogs attack sheep and poultry and we have to guard our children as well from their attacks,” said Zahoor Wani, 42, a resident of Ganderbal district adjoining Srinagar.
“If the government cannot handle the dog menace they must not spread it to areas where the menace was unknown till yesterday,” he said.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: alarming rate, animal rights activists, barking dogs, bashir ahmad, control organization, divisional commissioner, dogs in the city, government counsel, infrastructural support, jammu, khurshid, legal restrictions, municipal authorities, pest controller, presiding judge, provincial headquarters, public interest litigation, smgs, state authorities, stray dogs