Seven thousand two hundred and thirty-two bitten last year; 1,951 in the first four months of this year; at least 500 the past month; and 80 in just two days last week.
Srinagars streets,say residents,have gone to the dogs. The canine population across the Valley is pegged at close to a million; the latest census by Srinagar Municipal Corporation puts the numbers in Srinagar at over 90,000.
The problem took a turn for the worse a few years ago when the government discontinued culling of dogs following protests by animal rights activists and dog lovers. Now the population,and the number of dog bites,is on the rise. More than 500 dog bites have been reported the past month at Srinagar Maharaja Hari Singh hospitals anti-rabies unit.
Under pressure from activists,civil society groups and after the intervention of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court,the state government has announced plans to check the menace,including sterilisation of at least 50,000 dogs in Srinagar and setting up of canine pounds.
However,while seizure and sterilisation have started,with a room readied at the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology for the purpose,a Rs 900-crore project to set up pounds on more than 300 acres of land,with Rs 100 crore to be spent on annual maintenance,remains as ambitious as it sounds.
Desperate residents are now turning up in droves to book for a dog stopper device being offered by a Srinagar businessman. In less than a week,we have already got booking for 500 devices, says businessman Younis Khan,who claims to have tied up with an engineer friend in the US for the device. Shaped like a cellphone,the hand-held device emits ultrasonic waves to repel attacking dogs. It only emits high-frequency waves which arent perceptible to humans. It is completely safe, says Khan.
Firdous Ahmad,a resident of old city,is willing to spend Rs 980 for the device. The dogs have turned our life to hell, he says.