Who let the dogs die?

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Final solution? Activists in Kerala protest the killing and dumping of dog carcasses in forests
Final solution? Activists in Kerala protest the killing and dumping of dog carcasses in forests

In Delhi, as in Kerala, the public mood is turning against street dogs, never mind what the law and animal lovers might say. Culling them is seen as the way out.

Government-run hospitals in the national capital have the best idea of the ordeal that Delhi residents are facing. “Per hour, two severe cases of dog bite are referred to our hospital. We handle 150-200 fresh dog bite cases per day,” informs Dr Naresh Bhardwaj, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Safdarjung Hospital. Most dog bites reported in Delhi are not mere scratches – they involve punctured skin and bleeding. Aware of the problem, civic authorities want permission to eliminate canines deemed dangerous.

Lack of infrastructure, ignorance and the adamant attitude of dog lovers have aggravated the situation. Rohit, a fouryear- old kid, was playing in Mahipalpur with his friends when a dog attacked him. Neighbours told his mother Dipti Devi about the health issues that might surface six months down the line. “Rohit is my only son. The same dog has bitten a lady in the neighbourhood When I realised the risk involved, I rushed to the hospital.” As none of the nearby hospitals provide accessible and affordable vaccination for dog bite, Safdarjung hospital was her first and last resort.

Many like Rohit are forced to travel long distances before they get first aid. “The situation has aggravated due to the state government’s laidback attitude. It should invest more in state hospitals and make anti-rabies injection available at all hospitals across Delhi. This would not only ease the pressure from specific hospitals but also save the vital time of the concerned patients,” said a senior official at Safdarjung hospital.

The state government claims that all hospitals and clinics have anti-rabies injection to cater to such patients. However, it is only RML, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Safdarjung and couple of other hospitals which handle the main rush. In peak winter and summer, cases drastically increase. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) notoriously refers such cases to Safdarjung without the consent of the latter.

RMLfeels the twinge of pain on its budget. “The rush is very high at our hospital. Many these cases are severe in nature, specially the kids — they are helpless in the face of ferocious dogs. We have to spend large chunks to maintain stocks for such patients,” informs Dr Niruta Sharma, CMO, RML The hospital handles fresh cases as well as those referred by other hospitals.

Despite the claims of the Delhi government, hospitals managed by the state government suffer a shortage of antirabies serum (ARS), which can give immediate protection from all kinds of infections. Equine ARS is made from blood of horses and costs around Rs 1,000-1,500.

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