Stray dogs terrorise Bhairahawa locals243 people treated at a local hospital for dog bites in the past one month.
Stray dogs have been terrorising the locals of Bhairahawa in Rupandehi district with more than 200 cases of dog bite reported by a local hospital in the past one month alone.
Locals say packs of violent dogs roam the streets and they have been routinely attacking humans.
Officials at the Bhairahawa-based Bhim Hospital said 243 people were treated for dog bites in the last one month.
“Seventy-three patients came seeking treatment for dog bites on August 2 alone,” said Gopal Upadhyay, an information officer at the hospital.
The hospital records show that around 1,000 dog bite patients were treated in the last fiscal year.
Locals have now started to blame the local municipal office for failing to curb the street mutts and allowing them to terrorise their neighbourhoods.
"My neighbours have been attacked by street dogs and have been hospitalised,” said Bijaya Gobinda Shrestha, a local of Bhairahawa. “The municipality has so far done nothing to control these animals.”
Ishwor Chandra Chaudhary, chief at the veterinary unit of Siddharthanagar Municipality, said that the municipal office is aware of the street dog problem in Bhairahawa and its adjoining areas.
"We have to control them through the sterilisation process. But the municipality does not have enough human resources or the necessary medical equipment," said Chaudhary. "Just one sterilisation programme is not enough to curb the menace caused by stray dogs. All the concerned authorities must come together to start a campaign from the ground up.”
Geeta Sharma, a local woman, is worried that the stray dogs in her locality are rabid.
“It’s hard to step out of the house these days. We can’t walk or ride on two-wheelers without being chased by snarling dogs," she said.
Although Siddharthanagar Municipality had allocated Rs 500,000 to run a street dog population control programme last fiscal year, the amount was never put to use.
"We had tried to sign an agreement with the Kathmandu-based Animal Nepal and Paklihawa Campus to run a sterilisation programme, but it couldn’t happen because of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
The municipal office does not have any figure on the stray dog population. Chaudhary says their numbers could be more than 300.
According to Dr Nabin Darnal, the medical superintendent of Bhim Hospital, a sudden spike in cases of street dogs turning vicious and attacking people means either they are infected with rabies or they are hungry.
Dr Darnal himself is inclined towards the latter explanation.
“These dogs could be acting out because they could be hungry. The lockdown has hit the dog population as well. Most of the eateries and shops that fed them are closed. These dogs are underfed and irritated,” he said.
Bhairahawa does not have any animal welfare centres to look after and feed the street dogs.