Last month, two siblings aged five and six years were brutally mauled by a Rottweiler in horrific incident reported in an elite colony at Shivnagar, Alto-Oitiyant, Taleigao, sending shock waves across Goa.
In the incident the boy sustained injuries to his face, ear and chest, while the dog sunk his canines deep into the girl’s skull and neck.
Earlier this year in April in a bizarre incident, a pack of stray dogs attacked a 38-year-old woman at Maimollem, Vasco, wherein she was severely injured. The stray dogs bit hapless woman on her hands, legs, back and head. Fortunately, all three victims in these two incidents have survived.
A pregnant Kaveri Talwar, resident of Alto-Oaitiyant, was attacked by a pack of at least 10 stray dogs that had been adopted by owner of a luxurious bungalow in the area in 2020. They even tried attacking her young daughter. Fortunately they escaped unhurt.
“The house owner had assured to take required care and ensure that such incidents are not repeated. But even today we see the same stray dogs now adopted by him chase our children,” she said.
In January earlier this year, a stray dog attacked Ryan D’Mello from Curchorem, when he was visiting GMC’s Dental College to meet one of his relatives, who was undergoing treatment in the ward.
“The dog attacked me from behind. But I didn’t provoke the dog, so I don’t know what triggered attack. Luckily, there wasn’t any major injury. There was only a scratch on my right leg. I visited GMC’s casualty ward and took the treatment,” D’Mello said.
These incidents indicate how widespread the menace of stray dog attacks is. As per official data, nearly one lakh cases of dog bite have been reported across the State in the last five-and-a-half years, which is a scary picture of the situation.
Such unfortunate incidents take place due to lapses on the part of the dog owners and the local administration, which it can be prevented if the government works collectively with the stakeholders and the citizens.
It is the duty of the State, through the local self-governing bodies, to manage the stray dogs across the State while the owner of pet dogs ought to be careful in raising their pet in residential areas, especially the breeds which are considered to be aggressive and ferocious.
Those who own dogs of aggressive breeds ought to provide required training through services of behaviourist dog trainers for socialising their pet and ensure that their pets turn out to be among the most social and ensure that their pets don’t become a threat to people in the neighbourhood, particularly the children and senior citizens.
Every State has its own rule for pet animals particularly dogs. However, Goa lags behind as it neither has any specific rules nor has it implemented the guidelines and SOPs issued by different central agencies.
As per the reports, Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation has banned residents from keeping Pitbulls, Rottweilers and Dogo Argentino after a series of dog bite incidents involving these breeds were reported within its jurisdiction.
As per the estimation of Mission Rabies, the population of stray dogs in the State is little over 70,000 and is fast growing; however, according to the records available with the Directorate of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, only 27,000 odd dogs have been sterilised for birth control till date under the Goa Small Animal Rescue Management Scheme which was launched in 2015.
A section of people have been raising their voice against feeding stray dogs in public places particularly on roads. However, there is a need to strike a balance between “the humane act of feeding strays and protecting innocent people from stray dog attacks”, as observed by the Supreme Court during the hearing of a case last year.
Dr Murugan Appupillai, Director of Education, India, at Mission Rabies said, “Dogs have a natural prey instinct, which makes them chase moving objects. Kids and adults should stand still in such a situation. We have our education programme, where we ensure children and adults know the dangers of rabies, how to avoid being bitten by a dog and what they need to do if they do get bitten.”
Gurudas Pilarnekar, Director of Urban Development, Goa, said, “Municipalities were asked to take a resolution to decide the fees to be charged for the owners to register their pets. But none of the urban local bodies have done it, despite mentioning everything on the DMA’s website. We will send them a reminder and ask to comply at the earliest.”