The Kerala child rights body has moved the Supreme Court seeking “immediate directions” like providing confinement facilities for stray dogs or their culling for effectively checking the menace of canine attacks, especially on children.
The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has sought a direction from the apex court for being made a party in a pending 2019 case filed by the state government on the stray dog menace.
The child rights body, which also provided data on dog attack cases in the state, said, “The stray dogs can pose a risk to public safety by attacking people or other animals. A confined facility or culling of stray dogs can reduce the risk of such incidents to an extent.”
It said, globally, dog-mediated rabies causes an estimated 59,000 human deaths annually and, according to WHO (World Health Organisation), India accounts for 36 per cent of the global deaths due to rabies.
“India also accounts for 65% of the deaths due to rabies in the South-East Asia region. The National Rabies Control Program reported 6,644 clinically suspected cases and deaths of humans caused by rabies between 2012 and 2022. According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, almost 96% of rabies cases in India are caused by stray dogs – and so India leads the world in rabies deaths,” the child rights body said.
It said 5,794 stray dogs attacks were reported in Kerala in 2019 and the number went down to 3,951 in 2020.
In 2021, 7,927 dog attack cases were reported in the state, while 11,776 cases were recorded in 2022 and 6,276 up to June 19, 2023, it said.
“That very recently, a shocking incident in which a 11 year old autistic child, namely Nihal, was mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs at Kannur on June 11, 2023,” it said, adding a similar incident happened in Kottayam District of Kerala where a 12-year-old minor died due to stray dog attack last year.
Seeking judicial intervention to curb such cases, it said, “Stray dogs can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as rabies. Confined facilities for stray dogs can help to control the spread of such disease. Stray dogs can cause a nuisance by barking and attacking people, damaging property, and creating fear among the people and especially children.”
Earlier on June 21, a top court bench sought a response from the Kerala government on another plea, filed by the district panchayat of Kannur, seeking permission to euthanise “suspected rabid” and “extremely dangerous” stray dogs in Kannur district. A vacation bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice M M Sundresh issued a notice to Kerala and directed it to file a reply by July 7.
The plea raised the issue of stray dog attack on Nihal. It said the problem has continued despite every effort to control it.
The 11-year-old Nihal was found grievously injured in a bush near his home on June 11. The boy, who suffered from autism, went missing from home and was later found in a grievously injured state. He was rushed to a hospital where he died.
The Supreme Court is seized of a batch of petitions on issues related to orders passed by various civic bodies on the culling of stray dogs that have become a hazard, especially in Kerala and Mumbai.