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How mismanaged garbage creates a breeding ground for stray dogs in Kashmir

As voices are getting stronger with every passing day to put an end to canine horror in Kashmir, the Anti-Rabies clinic at the SMHS hospital

By Jahangir Sofi
New Update
From poultry to paws: Disturbing link between mismanaged waste and stray dogs in Kashmir

From April 22 to Mar 23, 5700 dog bite cases were reported at the Anti-Rabies clinic in Srinagar

As voices are getting stronger with every passing day to put an end to canine horror in Kashmir, the Anti-Rabies clinic at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar reported almost 6800 animal bite cases from April 22 to March 23.

According to data shared with the Ground Report by the Department of community medicine, Anti-Rabies Clinic of SMHS hospital in Srinagar, from April 2022 to March 2023 a total of 6855 animal bite cases have been registered of which around 5700 cases are of dog bites.

People in the region have been reporting a spike in dog chase and attack cases, stating that life for older people, and children has become miserably difficult while walking alone during the early or late hours.

Animal Bite Cases in Numbers

Dr. Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor & HOD Community Medicine GMC Srinagar, told Ground Report that among the dog bite cases, they are also witnessing an increase in the cat bite cases at their clinic.

Khan said that from 01-04-2022 to 31-03-2023, district Srinagar has reported 4912 animal bite cases, the highest among all the districts in the valley. The maximum number of animal bite cases, 621, was reported in March this year, while July last year reported as low as 346 animal bite cases.

Fear and vulnerability are growing as residents report an increase in incidents of dog chasing and attack in Srinagar. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report
Fear and vulnerability are growing as residents report an increase in incidents of dog chasing and attack in Srinagar. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

As per the data, the lowest animal bite cases in Kashmir from 01-04-2022 to 31-03-2023 have been reported from district Anantnag with just 85 cases. 

A Death Locals Attribute to Dog Chase 

In a recent death case of an 11-year-old boy Ahmad bin Javid, from Srinagar who according to the hospital authorities was a case of fatal drowning with respiratory failure with shock, the family members and locals of the area said the boy died because he was chased by dogs, after which he slipped into an open ‘under construction’ drain.

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Javid Ahmad father of Ahmad. Photo credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

Mourning the death of the 11-year-old son, heartbroken Javid Ahmad father of Ahmad told Ground Report that his son died because of the government’s ‘negligence’ saying they repeatedly apprised the authorities about the spread of dog menace in their area.

“In addition to the spread of the dog menace in the area, an open under-construction drain was also among the reasons for the death of my son, had the drain been covered with a lid, probably my son would have survived”, he said.

One of the close relatives of the deceased Ahmad bin Javid, also a local of the area said that their repeated requests to Srinagar municipal authorities about the increasing number of the dog population in their area were never addressed alleging that the authorities who did not address their concern and those who left the drain uncovered are responsible for the death of their beloved. 

Mohammad Hanief Butt, a philanthropist, academician, and chairman at Dubai Grand International School, where Ahmad was a student in grade 6th said that he was shocked to hear the news about the death of the child, saying the deceased was also one of the brilliant students in the school who had a great interest in sports.

Urging the parents and guardians to be more careful and sensitive while dropping and picking up their wards at their respective points, he also said that the spread of dog menace in the city should be addressed at the earliest by the concerned authorities to avoid any untoward eventuality in the future.

Open Garbage Dumps, Sterilizations

According to a research study on ‘Major Factors Associated with Increased Dog Population within District Srinagar’, open garbage dumps have been highlighted as a public health problem.

As per the research published in 2021, only around 2,000 sterilizations were conducted, and also around 2,000 stray dogs were administered the anti-rabies vaccine, stating that this is too less in comparison with the total population of dogs and still, the ballot of dogs from the particular zones of Srinagar is deficient.

The research mentions that to address the issue of the growing dog population in the city, in addition to focusing on proper garbage management Srinagar Municipal Corporation in collaboration with the Animal Welfare Board of India and Sheri Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology also initiated the process of establishing Animal Birth Control and anti-rabies center by signing a tripartite MOU on 11th August 2011.

A Multi-fold Increase In the Dog Population 

The research while highlighting the effective garbage management and sterilization of dogs on a fast-track basis to control the dog population states that the highly prolific nature of stray dogs with an average life span of about 2-5 years and two breeding seasons a year, a multi-fold increase in their population can be expected if allowed to breed freely.

The research states that under the availability of energy-rich non-vegan edible waste a female dog can add 10-15 pups to the population every year.

Namera Zhahaby, corresponding author of the research study told Ground Report that the open garbage points with highly portative leftover food are majorly aiding in the increase in the dog population and efficiency in breeding.

Fear and vulnerability are growing as residents report an increase in incidents of dog chasing and attack in Srinagar. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report
Fear and vulnerability are growing as residents report an increase in incidents of dog chasing and attack in Srinagar. Photo Credit: Jahangir Sofi/Ground Report

“Leftover protein food, like chicken and mutton bones and other forms of food are massively aiding in the increase of dog population. The highly portative food is making them more aggressive towards humans”, she said.

She states that in the research they have mentioned that daily about 450 metric tons of garbage are being generated within Srinagar from hotels, restaurants, and households’ poultry outlets which includes about 200 metric tons of Non-Vegetarian waste alone.

“Daily about 40,000 kg of poultry waste is generated from poultry outlets only and if this highly nutritious and energy-rich edible offal is not managed properly each dog can have access to around a kg of such energy-rich diet from poultry offal only, the breeding efficiency and life span of stray dogs can increase and the population can touch the alarming levels”, reveals the study.

Stray Dogs Explosion

According to the research, apart from the open garbage dumps which are a civic health barrier in the Srinagar district they also instigate stray dogs explosion. The simple accessibility of chow rendered through the leftovers in the waste does not merely boost fecundity in dogs, however, foraging makes dogs further prone to assail people. 

“Dogs that obtain free food from the waste dropped near the bakeshops, abattoirs don’t see citizens as a source of food plus are apt to assail them. The overpopulation of dogs is consequently formed and sustained by the abundance of possessions humans bestow with, so that it is, in prudence, a 'human-made' problem”, states the research study.

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