Anxiety has gripped residents of Modern Housing Complex after a stray dog living in the area attacked at least four people, including an Army officer and a police officer, after exhibiting “strange behaviour” and died soon after being caught by an MC team on Wednesday. However, the dog was immediately buried, leaving behind a mystery about its cause of death.
The MC dog catching squad members say they took it to the PFA-run animal shelter, and an NGO member said that they were never asked to conduct the autopsy, and, therefore, they buried it.
All the victims underwent treatment but area residents are worried about the possibility of the dog having contracted rabies, as their questions regarding the death of the dog have not been answered satisfactorily.
“A bitch gave birth to a number of puppies during the winter, and they grew up in the park here. We often fed them, and children in the area played with them. MC officials recently carried out a vaccination drive here following the case of rabies in Manimajra, but I remember that the dog which died was not vaccinated, as it cleverly escaped when the MC workers were trying to catch it,” said the wife of one of the victims who did not wish to be identified.
She added, “A few days ago, the dog suddenly stopped eating anything and then one day it attacked my husband on the leg. We immediately went to the hospital to get anti-rabies vaccine and serum. All the people who saw it are convinced that it was showing strange behaviour as it had never attacked anyone before.”
J S Rathee, another area resident who retired as Haryana’s director prosecution, said, “On Tuesday night, I saw the dog attack Suman Dahiya, a teacher who was walking near her house. Early in the morning on Wednesday, it attacked the wife of a police officer and then her husband when he came to save her. The woman suffered severe injuries and both of them were treated. We informed the MC officials, and the dog was immediately caught. However, area residents are a worried lot ever since we were informed about the death, as many of them believe it contracted rabies. The MC should clearly inform us what went wrong with it, and precautions we should follow, as there are many other dogs in the area.”
Randeep Singh, another area resident, said, “The dog grew up fine and then suddenly changed its behaviour which was noticed by everyone here. Then it attacked several residents and died. The MC officials did not give us any clear answer as to why they were not conducting an autopsy.”
Dr M S Kamboj, in-charge of the animal birth control programme, said, “It was a stray dog and it could have died due to sickness. However, as a precautionary measure, we have caught all dogs in that area for vaccination and sterilisation. Regardless of whether or not it had rabies, the victims are supposed to follow the standard treatment, so they need not worry if they have been treated. There is no reason to panic.”
Tara Chand, in-charge of the PFA shelter, said, “The dog died mysteriously 15-20 minutes after it was brought here and we buried it. The cause of death was not ascertained, but if the residents were attacked, they should get proper treatment.”
‘Dog sterilisation programme not hit’
DR KAMBOJ said that the dog sterilisation programme had not been affected by the absence of one of the two doctors who quit a few days ago. “He did not tell us the exact reason for his decision but the NGO has replaced him with another doctor from Maharashtra who will join in a day or two,” he said.
Sources said that the doctor decided to leave after some animal lovers complained that dogs were not being sterilised properly. “Last week, a resident came to the centre in Sector 38 (West) and argued with the officials here alleging that dogs were released before their post-operative wounds healed. He alleged that many dogs have died due to this, something which the doctors denied. Then the chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India, Gen Maj (retd) R M Kharb, visited the centre and asked the doctors to follow the standard operating procedure while conducting sterilisations. On an earlier occasion, a woman had visited the centre and made similar observations. The doctor was new to the city and felt that too many people were interfering with his work. Therefore, he chose to go back to Maharashtra,” said sources.
Meanwhile, the Chandigarh SPCA animal shelter located next to the dog sterilisation centre has been in dire straits ever since the society stopped receiving funds from the administration for treating sick and injured dogs, owing to infighting among NGO members and allegations of embezzlement. On Friday, a dog died of sickness while several other dogs have died in the last few weeks, as the two doctors working there left the shelter a month ago. “Nobody is treating the dogs while our salaries for the last four months have not been paid,” said the workers.