For Karachiites a dog’s bite is worse than its bark

Bol News  |  Jun 14, 2021

Karachi: It is usually late at night when a group of dogs enjoy leftovers from a nearby restaurant in an abandoned plot of Gulzar-e-Hijri when another group attack to take over the territory and food.

The deafening noises of barking and growling are so common in the area that no one pays attention. The fight continues for hours until one group wins and forced other to flee away. Sometime, one or two passersby get caught into the crossfire and suffer dog bite wounds.

Considered to be on the outskirts of the main city a few years ago, Gulzar-e-Hijri was home to many stray dogs which provided a safe haven for them with its poor infrastructure and a large number of vacant plots. Though no area in the city is completely free from stray dogs, Gulzar-e-Hijri has largely been infamous for its number of reported dog bite incidents.

“We have asked the local administration many times to initiate a culling campaign against these stray dogs but all in vain,” complained Kashif Ali, a resident of Sarah Apartment, adding that the situation is only getting worse with the passage of time.

The data collected by Indus Hospital reveals that more than 3,000 cases of dog bites have been reported in the last six months, while 7,500 cases were registered in the previous year by the hospital alone.

So far this year, Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical College reported six deaths due to rabies while four were reported by Indus Hospital.

There is no official data available to confirm that how many stray dogs exist in the city, however, some animal rights activists claim the number to be more than 200,000.

A year ago, Sindh government began the campaign to cull stray dogs, however, the movement had to be stopped after objections were raised by some animal rights groups.

These groups suggested that instead of culling the dogs, government should spay them and control their population growth.

A high-placed source in the health department told Bol that NGOs always raise objections to the culling campaign forcing the drive to be abandoned.

Not every dog carries rabies

Like 90 per cent species of snakes found in Pakistan are not venomous, similarly, more than 90 per cent stray dogs do not carry rabies.

Medics, however, suggest that one should, as a safety precaution, still get vaccinated in case of a dog bite.

Deputy Director Research and Analysis Department Government Veterinary Hospital Dr Haresh Goswami says that the sharp rise of dog bite cases in the province is alarming.

“Identifying a dog carrying rabies is not difficult as the dog would mostly be drooling and express anger at any moving object,” he explained.

Goswami further says that it is difficult to avoid the dog when he is about to attack, however, one should avoid making eye contact with aggressive dogs.

He says that a mad dog would always run straight and would try to bite whoever comes in his way.

Dr Naseem Salahudin, the head of the Indus Hospital Infectious Diseases, explains that if one is bitten by a dog he should wash the wound with soap and water for at least half an hour, which could reduce the chances of being infected by rabies.

Characteristics of stray dogs

A resident of Dumba Goth, Naz Palari, said that since stray dogs are mostly a native breed, they are familiar with their surroundings as compared to other breeds.

He further stated that dogs don’t disturb or harm the people living in the same neighbourhood and only act when they sense any strange individuals.

He explained that people in the rural areas allow stray dogs to live near their houses so that they guard their homes. Palari insists that the same can be implemented in the urban areas.

 

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