It’s a dogs life for city residents,as dogs have a field day biting nearly 500 people daily on an average,after which they face difficulty in getting treatment owing to the heavy rush at the three hospitals that vaccinate victims.
Already mutual mistrust between the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Animal Help Foundation (AHF) has ensured that the project for neutralising dogs fails miserably.
Under the AHFs catch-neuter-vaccinate-release programme with AMCs financial support,45,000 out of 75,000-odd stray dogs in the city were neutralised from January to December in 2006. It was very important to carry on this,but hitch-after-hitch in the subsequent period neutralised the whole effort itself.
The result: dogs began multiplying again and today,the dog control squad of the AMC receives around 70 complaints daily from people requesting to catch the canines. The grossly under-equipped squad with only two vehicles is able to catch just 10 to 12 dogs in two shifts,officials say,adding,the problem is severe in the new west zone areas.
The problem becomes acute in winters when dog-bite cases increase. But the three hospitals Shardaben,LG and VS can treat victims only until the stocks last.
Each dose costs the AMC Rs 210 (minimum five shots),but the treatment is free for local residents. They receive victims numbering around 150 to 175 daily at each of these hospitals.
Captain Dilip Kumar Mahajan,deputy municipal commissioner,admitted that the neutralisation work had suffered a lot in the last couple of years due to inability of the agency involved,as it would not get enough monetary help from outside. The AMC would pay it Rs 380 per dog,but it demanded more,which the civic body was not willing to pay,he said.
He added,But still we have kept the work going. He,however,did not say if the continuing work was effective or not. AHF director Rahul Sehgal could not be contacted despite several attempts.
On the vaccine cost front,there is a ray of hope with the Centre allowing local bodies to use intra-dermal vaccines that cost 80 per cent less than the current rate of Rs 210 per shot at Rs 40 for one injection. The AMC will shortlist suppliers soon,which should ease the vaccine supply problem,but the dog-bite menace may continue to dog it.