24-year-old MCC student was petting the dog when it bit him
A 24-year-old postgraduate student of social work died around midnight on Thursday in Vellore, three months after he was bitten by a pup at Madras Christian College in East Tambaram.
Alan Joash Samuel was petting a couple of pups that had strayed into the campus in the second week of November when one of them bit him. A classmate accompanying him was also bitten.
Both students were taken to the medical centre on the campus and administered tetanus shots. Alan’s classmate subsequently underwent a complete anti-rabies vaccination course, while Alan did not, authorities told The Hindu.
On Wednesday, Alan developed high fever and began displaying symptoms of hydrophobia. He was taken to a private hospital in the city and then to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. From there, he was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of Christian Medical College in Vellore.
He failed to respond to treatment and died around midnight, Michael Samuel, his father, said. “We were not aware that it was serious. He had only told us that it was a minor bite from a pup,” Mr. Samuel said.
Alan’s death left his relatives, friends and teachers devastated. “He loved pets, especially the Labrador they had at home,” said Jemima Paul, his aunt. The family had given away the dog last year after his mother Helena Michael fell while taking the Labrador for a walk
Alan, an engineering graduate, worked in the software industry for two years but his heart was set on social work and he joined the college in 2013, his friends said.
“It is really shocking. This is the first such incident in the college and we will take steps to put an end to this problem,” said principal R.W. Alexander Jesudasan. He said that walls had been built around most of the college compound, except for a small stretch and noted that dogs were a threat to the deer on campus too.
The college is spread over more than 360 acres and large parts are covered with thick vegetation. Attempts made with the cooperation of the Tambaram Municipality to trap stray dogs are not always successful as they hide amidst the vegetation, faculty said.
With an increase in the number of complaints related to stray dogs from residents, the municipality is looking to expand its animal birth control project.
To identify sterilised dogs, a small cut is made on the ear after surgery.
The dogs are vaccinated for rabies and are released after their surgical wounds are healed, staff said.
A senior official of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said, “We have to follow certain rules in handling stray dogs and abide by guidelines as laid down by Animal Welfare Board of India.”
Animal rights activists noted that while precautionary measures were necessary, there should be no large-scale culling of dogs.