Three adults and a child were injured after feral dogs attacked them in two separate incidents in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday morning, The Indian Express reported. At least 14 children have been killed in such attacks in the district in the last six months.

Early on Sunday, two dogs attacked an 18-year-old when he left his house to relieve himself in Sheikh Tola village, Laharpur police station house officer Indrajeet Singh said. His father and a neighbour went to save him but the dogs attacked them too. They beat one of the dogs to death, while the other one ran away, Singh told The Indian Express. The three suffered minor bite injuries.

Hours later, five dogs attacked a seven-year-old boy in Har Raipur village, the police said. The dogs ran away after his father and uncle went to save him. The boy sustained multiple injuries and was admitted to the district hospital, where he is in a critical condition, a police official told the Hindustan Times.

On Saturday afternoon, a woman, said to be 55 years old, was injured in another such attack by three dogs in Sujaulpur village, The Times of India reported.

Sameer, a resident of Sitapur, told the Hindustan Times that the dogs were earlier attacking children in secluded places. “But these recent incidents, especially the ones involving an elderly woman and three adults, are causing panic among people living in populated areas too,” he said.

Around 50 dogs have been sent to an animal shelter in Lucknow and about six have been sterilised so far, Sitapur’s Chief Veterinary Officer Ravindra Prasad Yadav told The Indian Express.

Experts believe shortage of food after the crackdown on illegal abattoirs may be a reason for the aggression among dogs. “Earlier when the abattoirs were operational, the dogs used to get food in form of leftovers,” said RK Singh, the director of Indian Veterinary Research Institute. “But, with the closure of the abattoirs, there was a shortage of food for the dogs.”