22 Mar

Govt Instructs States to Record Stray & Pet Dog Bite Case Separately

In a bit to survey and control the number of dog bite cases, the Center has directed state governments to record cases of dog bites by pet dogs and stray dogs separately. 

In an order issued on March 7, the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) wrote a letter to the states, instructing them to provide detailed data regarding animal bites. The data should be sourced from a variety of sources, including health centres, community health centres, district hospitals and other care facilities. The data should contain details of the number of dog bite case, and the number of bites caused by pet dogs versus stray dogs. States have also been asked to avoid double-entries by maintaining different records for dog bites cased by pets and strays. 

The Centre’s order has been issued after an observed rise in the number of cases of mauling and biting by stray and pet animals. Initially, a dip in the number of cases was observed between 2018 and 2021. However, dog bite cases have ben on the rise since 2022, with dog bite cases increasing from 21.8 Lakh to 27.5 Lakh between 2022 and 2023 according to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  Maharashtra recorded the highest number of dog-related bite cases in 2023 at 4.35 Lakh cases. 

The Government order also comes shortly after the Animal Welfare Board of India’s representations to the union ministry of health, asking for separate data for pet and stray dog bites so a better resolution can be reached, and public health tracking can be improved. In a representation from the AWBI to the Ministry in 2023, it was pointed out that there exists an assumption that most dog bite cases are caused by street or stray dogs. The AWBI suggested data segregation as this would help understand the percentage of pet dog and stray dog bite cases and help increase awareness regarding the responsibility a pet owner holds. 

Abi Vanak, an ecologist from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), said segregating the recording of data will help in surveillance of dog bites and rabies. He said that authorities should pay close attention to the vaccination and sterilization records of dogs. He also noted that Animal Birth Control Rules (ABC Rules), 2023, have created categories such as “street dogs and community dogs”. “In such cases, it becomes nearly impossible to ascertain actual ownership status, especially if the dog is free-ranging,” said Vanak, senior fellow and director, center for policy design, ATREE.



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