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PENINSULA DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2012

D5

Beware of exploding toilets! Millions of flushers recalled by agency PENINSULA DAILY NEWS NEWS SERVICES

THE NEW YORK TIMES

A stray dog hiding beneath a vendor’s table bares its teeth in New Delhi. Millions of people are bitten annually in India.

Free-roaming stray dogs in India increasing menace — with a bite An estimated 20,000 people die yearly from rabies, over a third of global toll BY GARDINER HARRIS THE NEW YORK TIMES

NEW DELHI — Victims of the surprise attacks limp into one of this city’s biggest public hospitals. Among the hundreds on a recent day were children cornered in their homes, students ambushed on their way to class and old men ambling back from work. All told the same frightening story: Stray dogs had bitten them. Deepak Kumar, 6, has an angry slash across his back from a dog that charged into his family’s shack. “We finally closed the gates to our colony and beat the dog to death,� said Deepak’s father, Rajinder. No other country has as many stray dogs as India, and no other country suffers as much from them. Free-roaming dogs number in the tens of millions and bite millions of people annually, including vast numbers of children. An estimated 20,000 people die every year from rabies infections — more than a third of the global rabies toll. Packs of strays lurk in public parks, guard alleyways and street corners and howl nightly in neighborhoods and villages. Joggers carry bamboo rods to beat them away, and bicyclists fill

their pockets with stones to throw at chasers. Walking a pet dog here can be akin to swimming with sharks. “It’s very difficult to take a dog for a walk here because of the attacks from street dogs,� said Radhey Sharma, president of the Indian Veterinary Association.

Can’t kill dogs A 2001 law forbade the killing of dogs — Hindus oppose the killing of many kinds of animals — and the stray population has increased so much that officials across the country have expressed alarm. In Mumbai, where more than 80,000 people reported being bitten last year, the government plans to conduct a census of the strays by using motorcycles to chase them down and squirt their fur with ink. A member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly proposed in June sending strays to China — where dogs are sometimes eaten — after more than 15,000 people in the state reported being bitten last year. In New Delhi, officials recently announced a sterilization campaign. India’s place as the global center for rabid dogs is an ancient one. The first dog ever infected with

rabies most likely was Indian, said Dr. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Dog bites cause 99 percent of human rabies deaths. India’s pariah dog, the dominant street breed, is probably a descendant of an early Chinese immigrant, said Peter Savolainen, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. For thousands of years, dogs’ relationship with humans was similar to that of pilot fish with sharks, said John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol in Britain. “Dogs essentially started out as scavengers,� Bradshaw said. “They evolved to hang around people rather than to be useful to them.�

Survive on garbage While that relationship largely has disappeared in the developed world, it remains the dominant one in India, where strays survive on the ubiquitous mounds of garbage. Some are fed and collared by residents who value them as guards and as companions, albeit distant ones. Nonetheless, India’s burgeoning middle class has begun to adopt Western notions of pet ownership, buying pedigreed dogs and bringing animals into their homes.

ndia’s burgeoning middle class has begun to adopt Western notions of pet ownership, buying pedigreed dogs and bringing animals into their homes. But many pedigreed dogs end up on the street, the castoffs of unsuccessful breeders or owners who tire of the experiment.

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But many pedigreed dogs end up on the street, the castoffs of unsuccessful breeders or owners who tire of the dogs. Stray dogs are also dangerous because they help ticks and other parasites thrive. But animal-welfare advocates fervently reject euthanasia, and some warn that reducing the stray population while doing nothing about the country’s vast mounds of garbage could be dangerous because rats might thrive in dogs’ place. “The first thing you need to start doing to reduce the stray population is manage your garbage better,� said Arpan Sharma, chief executive of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations. “And the second thing is very aggressive spaying, neutering and vaccinating of animals.�

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Shut off water Anyone who owns a toilet with the recalled system should shut off the water connection to the toilet and contact Flushmate at 800303-5123 to request a free repair kit, the commission said in the recall notice. Earlier this month, a Las Vegas woman sued Flushmate and its parent, Sloan Valve Co., in federal court in Los Angeles. The woman, Maralee Pelka, said the faulty device caused her toilet to malfunction and leak. The lawsuit contends that the repair kit offered in the recall is inadequate, and the entire flushing system needs to be replaced by a professional plumber. Her lawsuit seeks classaction status and unspecified monetary damages.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has ordered a recall for millions of faulty flushing mechanisms that have caused toilets to explode, creating “laceration risks� for toilet users. The recall covers the Flushmate III PressureAssisted Flushing System, which was sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores and to toilet manufacturers American Standard, Crane, Kohler, Eljer, Mansfield, St. Thomas and Gerber. The recall applies to devices manufactured between 1997 and 2008 — about 2.3 million in the United States and 9,000 in Canada. The commission said Flushmate has received 304 reports of the product bursting, with 14 “impact or laceration injuries.�

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