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Over one lakh dog bite incidents in Kerala in 2015-16:SC panel

New Delhi: More than one lakh people in Kerala have been bitten by dogs in 2015-16, a Supreme Court- appointed panel today said while warning that frequent stray dog attacks on children in the state have created a dangerous situation.

“India is a nation with substantial fatal rabies cases, mainly due to stray dog bites. Kerala is estimated to have stray dog population of 2.5 lakhs, which feed lavishly on the wastes and garbages dumps across cities and towns. Frequent stray dog attacks on children in Kerala have created a dangerous situation.

“There have been incidents of stray dogs chasing, attacking and biting school children, aged persons, pedestrians, morning walkers and two-wheeler riders…More than one lakh people in the state have been bitten by dogs in 2015-16,” a three-member committee headed by former Kerala High Court judge Justice S S Jagan said in its report.

The committee also comprising the state law secretary and the director health services, filed the report before a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit.

The bench directed the committee to continue its work and asked the state government to provide all necessary infrastructre to it.

On April 5, the apex court had appointed the committee to look into the aspect of treatment of people who have been bitten by stray dogs and the claims of compensation.

The court is hearing a batch of appeals, including those filed by Animal Welfare Board and dog lovers, against the decisions of some high courts, including the Bombay High Court and the Kerala High Court, to allow municipal authorities to deal with the stray dogs menace as per the rules.

The apex court had earlier declined to pass an interim order to stay culling of stray dogs by Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation on a PIL by advocate Anupam Tripathi, saying the killing of dangerous dogs and those infected with rabies should be guided by the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.

The panel further said that in 2015-16 the Kerala Medical Services Corporation has been alloted Rs 7.25 crore for procuring rabies vaccines.

“Since the stray dog menace is increasing day by day and the number of cases of dog bites being reported to public health facilities is increasing, the government also granted an additional Rs 2 crores from the Plan Fund, and another Rs 3 crores were sanctioned…” the committee said.

It made some provisional recommendation like making available anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) and human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) in all public health institutions in the state, training of medical officers, proper waste management, vaccination and sterilization of stray dogs and licensing of domesticated animals.

According to the panel, the maximum reported cases of dog bites were from Thiruvananthapuram- 5948, Palakkad-4916, Kollam-3670, Pathanamthitta-2892, Alappuzha-2967, Ernakulam-2050, Thrissur-2044 cases and Koattayam-1614 in which around four people have died till now.

The apex court had earlier asked the government to specify the criteria for granting compensation to dog bite victims, especially when someone bitten dies.

It had earlier asked the states and civic bodies to take steps to sterilise and vaccinate nuisance- causing stray dogs under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The court had said that the local authorities has “sacrosanct duty to provide sufficient number of dog pounds, including animal kennels/shelters” which may be managed by the animal welfare organisations.

Animal Welfare Board of India, in its plea, has sought that the central law, which mandates birth control of street dogs through strict implementation of the Animal Birth Control Dogs Rules, be followed.