Two athletes running a marathon in Nainital were only 3-3.5 kilometre from the finish line when a pack of stray dogs attacked them and left them injured.
On Sunday, during the Eighth Nainital Monsoon Mountain Marathon in the lake town, a pack of stray dogs bit Arun Adhikari and Lakshman Singh who were running the marathon, and were at few metres from each other.
“I was performing well when I saw a black dog chasing me. I did ask people around me to shoo away the dog, but it finally bit me,” Singh said.
The marathon ended abruptly for the two as they were “rushed to a local hospital and were given anti-rabies vaccination,” organiser of the 21 kilometre marathon Harish Tewari, who admittedly witnessed such an incident first time in the eight years since the marathon was being conducted in the town.
“The dog menace is affecting the locals and the tourists too. Now, our athletes have also fallen victim to it… The local administration must tackle the problem,” Tewari said.
One athlete – Pramod Patni – complained of having been attacked by a monkey during the marathon.
Despite the Nainital Municipal Corporation’s claims of having sterilised 826 stray dogs in the town in the past five months, the issue of dog menace remains, as only in July a 10-year-old girl from Rajasthan had fallen into a ditch on the outskirts of Nainital and died after being chased by a stray dog.
“We have sterilised 826 stray dogs in the 11 sq km area that falls under the municipal corporation. However, the survey for stray dogs is on and the sterilisation process continues to keep the population of stray dogs in check,” Executive Officer of the Nainital Municipal Corporation Rohitash Sharma said.
According to the data with the district administration the cases of dog bites have been rising in the past months with 1,185 cases reported between June and now.
Nainital Additional District Magistrate Harbeer Singh said that the issue of dog bites was not related to only street dogs. “In the past two weeks about 138 cases of dog bites and monkey bites have been reported [across the Nainital district]. Of these 93 victims were bitten by domestic dogs, four by monkeys and the remaining by street dogs. It goes to prove that the menace is more because of domestic dogs, so the administration cannot be solely blamed for the issue.”