It is usually late at night when a group of dogs are enjoying leftovers from a nearby restaurant in an abandoned Gulzar-e-Hijri property while another pack of dogs attacks to take over the territory and the food.
The deafening sounds of barks and growls are so common in the area that no one pays attention. The fight goes on for hours until one group wins and forces the other to flee. Sometimes one or two passers-by get caught in the crossfire and suffer dog bite wounds.
Gulzar-e-Hijri was considered a suburb of the city a few years ago and is home to many stray dogs, which, with their poor infrastructure and lots of free land, offer them a safe haven. While no area in the city is completely free of stray dogs, Gulzar-e-Hijri appears to be quite notorious for its number of reported dog bite incidents.
“We have asked the local administration many times to start a culling campaign against these stray dogs, but all to no avail,” said one local resident. He added that the situation will only get worse over time.
The data from three hospitals including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi Civil Hospital and Indus Hospital show that more than 23,500 cases of dog bites have been reported in 2021 to date, compared with 24,000 cases the previous year.
So far this year, JPMC reported seven deaths from rabies, while Indus Hospital reported four deaths.
No official data
There is no official data to confirm how many stray dogs live in the city. However, some animal rights activists put the number at over 200,000.
A year ago the Sindh government launched a campaign to kill stray dogs, but the political decision had to be withdrawn after objections from some animal rights groups. These groups suggested that instead of killing the dogs, the government should castrate them and control their population growth.
A senior health ministry source told Bol News that non-governmental organizations are always objecting to the culling campaign, which is forcing the action to stop.
While data shows there are many dog bite cases in the province, the health department seems helpless to vaccinate the poor. Karachi Health Service Director Dr. Akram Sultan admitted that there is no vaccine in the state hospitals. “This is due to the mismanagement. Due to the tense situation with India, the department was unable to import the vaccines. Hopefully the department can do it with another source. “
Not all dogs
Just as 90 percent of the species of snakes found in Pakistan are non-poisonous, more than 90 percent of stray dogs do not transmit rabies. However, medical professionals recommend that if you get a dog bite you should still be vaccinated for safety reasons.
The deputy director of a state veterinary hospital, Dr. Haresh Goswami said the sharp rise in dog bite cases in the province was alarming.
“Identifying a rabies-carrying dog is not difficult as the dog will mostly drool and express its anger at any moving object,” he explained.
Dr. Goswami said it was difficult to avoid dogs if they attacked, but eye contact with aggressive dogs should be avoided. He explained that a “crazy dog” would always run straight and try to bite anyone who got in its way.
Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Indus Hospital, said that if you are bitten by a dog, you should wash your wound with soap and water for at least half an hour to reduce the risk of contracting rabies.
Characteristics of stray dogs
Naz Palari, a resident of Dumba Goth, said that since stray dogs are mostly a native breed, they are more familiar with their surroundings compared to other breeds.
He claimed that dogs do not disturb or hurt people who live in the same neighborhood and only act when they sense strangers.
He explained that people in rural areas allow stray dogs to live near their homes so that they can guard their homes. Palari insists that the same can be done in the urban areas.