For all those who have been hounded by packs of hungry strays late in the night or roused from their night-time slumber by canine choruses or for those unable to fall asleep because of the sustained howling of neighbourhood strays, there’s news.
The number of dogs in the city has indeed gone up, with the BMC estimating their current count to be around 2,95,000.
To curb the population of strays, the BMC carries out sterilisation. But this method has not proven effective, as the number of strays has increased in the last eight years. The last dog census was conducted in 2014, in which the number of strays was 95,174. The next canine census will be conducted in January 2023.
Usually, the BMC conducts a dog census once in five years but Covid-19 put paid to this plan, pushing it all the way to January 2023, a civic official said. Dr K A Pathan, General Manager, Deonar Abattoir, explained, “Dogs can give birth to 4-5 puppies at a time
That does not mean no steps are being taken to curb their numbers. We have carried out numerous sterilizations of stray dogs, but for which their current number would be as high as 10 lakh to 15 lakh. “Sterilisation is not the only method to curb dog nuisance. We also administer anti-rabies vaccination to them.
It must be understood that we can’t completely eradicate dogs from a locality but we need to keep their population in check so that human beings and dogs can co-exist.” The civic health department, the Deonar abattoir, along with private institutes and the dog control cell carry out sterilisation of dogs. In the last two years, 33,166 dogs have been sterilised.
Dogs do not bite humans without reason, officials point out. The biting could happen because of the dog’s feelings of insecurity or hunger or being teased or it could just be a way to guard their territory. The BMC receives several complaints from people bitten by strays. In the last four years, there were three lakh complaints of dog bites.