The Chennai Corporation has decided to commence a dog census in the city.

The data will help the civic body cope with emerging problems pertaining to the animals. Recent cases of dogs biting children have created panic among residents and led to a rise in the number of complaints to the Corporation.

Representatives of the animal welfare board met with civic body officials on Monday to chalk out a strategy to tackle problems associated with an estimated 1.7 lakh stray dogs and 3000 licensed pet dogs in the city.

The civic body has set a target of sterilising and vaccinating 60,000 dogs per year.

Currently, the number of dogs sterilised in the city is around 20,000 per year. The Corporation will increase the number of animal birth control centres in the city. In addition to the birth control centres in Pulianthope, Lloyds Road, Velachery and Vepery, the Corporation has identified land in Ambattur and Manali for commissioning new centres.

“We will recruit more assistant veterinary surgeons and employ more dog catchers to achieve the target of sterilising and vaccinating 60,000 dogs per year,” said a Corporation official.

After intensifying the animal birth-control drive last week, civic body officials have started focussing on analysing various factors contributing to the rise in cases of dog bites and rabies.

The city, which was reported to be rabies-free in 2009, has started to have new cases in recent years. At least one resident in 2010, five in 2011, eleven in 2012 and two in 2013 so far, have died of rabies.

“Most of the rabies cases are due to lack of awareness among residents. Residents should visit major government hospitals such as Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital or any of the peripheral hospitals after a dog bite and get free vaccination on the same day. A person should first wash the wound with soap,” said a veterinary official of the Corporation.

The Corporation will create awareness among residents on such aspects. Residents who own dogs and get a dog licence for Rs. 50 per year will be able to get free vaccination for their pets in the corporation pet centres in Pallavan Salai in Thiru. Vi. Ka Nagar, and School Road in Nungambakkam. The civic body is also planning to regulate dog breeding units in the city.

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