Dog days: Medical expert claims sharp increase in dog-bite cases across Sindh

Dog days: Medical expert claims sharp increase in dog-bite cases across Sindh

Dog days: Medical expert claims sharp increase in dog-bite cases across Sindh

It is usually late at night when a group of dogs enjoys leftovers from a nearby restaurant in an abandoned plot of Gulzar-e-Hijri while another pack of canines attacks to take over the territory and food.

The deafening noises of barking and growling are so common in the area that no one pays attention. The fight continues 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.

Considered to be on the outskirts of the city a few years ago, Gulzar-e-Hijri is home to many stray dogs which provides a safe haven for them with its poor infrastructure and a large number of vacant plots. Although no area in the city is completely free from stray dogs, Gulzar-e-Hijri seems to be quite infamous for its number of reported dog-bite incidents.

“We have asked the local administration many times to initiate a culling campaign against these stray dogs but all in vain,” said an area resident. He added that the situation is only getting worse with the passage of time.

The data collected from three hospitals including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Civil Hospital Karachi and Indus Hospital reveals that more than 23,500 cases of dog bites have been reported in 2021 till date while 24,000 cases were registered in the previous year.


So far this year, JPMC reported seven deaths due to rabies while four deaths were reported by Indus Hospital.

No official data

There is no official data available to confirm how many stray dogs exist in the city. However, some animal rights activists claim the number to be more than 200,000.

A year ago, Sindh government began a campaign to cull stray dogs but the policy decision had to be withdrawn after objections were raised by some animal rights groups. These groups suggested that instead of culling the dogs, the government should spay them and control their population growth.

A highly-placed source in the health department told Bol News that non-governmental organisations always raise objections to the culling campaign forcing the drive to be abandoned.

Brewing crisis


While the data shows that there is a large number of dog-bite cases in the province, the health department seems helpless to provide vaccination to the poor people. Director health services Karachi Dr Akram Sultan admitted there is no vaccine available in the government-run hospitals. “This is due to the mismanagement. Due to tense situation with India, the department could not import the vaccines. Hopefully, the department will manage it with some other source.”

Not all dogs

Like 90 per cent species of snakes found in Pakistan are not venomous, similarly, more than 90 per cent stray dogs do not carry rabies. Medics, however, suggest that one should, as a safety precaution, still get vaccinated in case of a dog bite.

Deputy director at a government veterinary hospital Dr Haresh Goswami said that the sharp rise of dog-bite cases in the province is alarming.

“Identifying a dog carrying rabies is not difficult as the dog would mostly be drooling and express anger at any moving object,” he explained.

Dr Goswami further said that it is difficult to avoid dogs when they are about to attack, however, one should avoid making eye contact with aggressive dogs. He stated that a ‘mad dog’ would always run straight and would try to bite whoever comes in his way.


Dr Naseem Salahuddin, head of infectious diseases at the Indus Hospital, explained that if one is bitten by a dog, they should wash the wound with soap and water for at least half an hour which could reduce the chances of being infected by rabies.

Characteristics of stray dogs

Naz Palari, a resident of Dumba Goth, said that since stray dogs are mostly a native breed, they are familiar with their surroundings as compared to other breeds.

He claimed that dogs do not disturb or harm the people living in the same neighbourhood and only act when they sense any strange individuals.

He explained that people in the rural areas allow stray dogs to live near their houses so that they guard their homes. Palari insists that the same can be implemented in the urban areas.

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