Rarely has an ordinary person witnessed the death of a stray dog by gunshot and, at the very least, not wondered if there had been another way.
Yes, there is. And the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) ought to pay a lot more attention to the alternative.
I admit that it may be improper to single out CBC for doing what’s widely practiced throughout the country; that is, the adoption of a ruthless, inefficient, and possibly illegal method for controlling the population of stray animals in suburban districts.
It may also be inappropriate of a police officer to flag down just one of many cars that have simultaneously crossed a red light. At best, the driver may curse his misfortune, but not deny his guilt.
The Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) recently reported the killing of two stray dogs in DHA Phase 2 market, by CBC personnel. The dogs were asleep when they were shot in the neck, posing no immediate threat to the residents.
This has happened many times before in Clifton, with residents finding bullet-ridden corpses of dogs lying rotting in the streets or in garbage dumps.
At times, the locals find victims of botched execution, who limp about the unforgiving neighbourhood struggling for their lives.
Local animal lovers have been rallying against this CBC’s brutality since last year. Allegedly, the culling is ongoing.
According to Mustafa Ahmed of a local animal welfare group called ‘Home Four Paw & Claw’ (HFPC), the killing of stray dogs violates an earlier arrangement made by the CBC with his group; where the CBC reportedly agreed to end the culling, as HPFC offered to deal with stray animals humanely. It’s possibly because of this violation, that the CBC spokesperson, Aamir Siddiqui, denies the shooting of stray dogs, even though the Sanitation Supervisor admits that it has occurred.
The HFPC is a small organisation of concerned locals that has taken up the task of controlling the stray population in the Clifton area by evacuating, sheltering, vaccinating or neutering them in a humane fashion.
One almost hesitates to bring up the matter of animal cruelty, because in a country beset by all forms of unbridled human misery, a plea to alleviate the pain of a street dog comes off as chutzpah.
Also read: The pangolin died — yes, it matters
The ethical argument to end the shooting of dogs is strong, but a reader unconcerned about ethics may still find plenty of reasons to be incensed by the CBC’s campaign.
The HPFC aims to limit the stray population at a fraction of the budget allocated by the Clifton Board for stray dog cleansing, using internationally approved methodologies that do not involve killing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is no evidence that culling alone has any real impact on the population of stray dogs, or the control of rabies.
Even the highest recorded culling rates of up to 15 per cent, can be easily compensated by the animals’ natural reproductive rate and in-migration.
Mass vaccination and sterilisation, is not simply the only merciful solution, but the only effective solution.
Vaccinating up to 70 per cent of the stray population is generally sufficient to control rabies, and animal birth control programs around the world have repeatedly demonstrated their effectiveness over wanton killing.
Last year, as the incidence of rabies caused alarm in Kerala where dog-shooters were set loose on a red-eyed rampage, Jaipur successfully rolled down its own incidence of rabies to a clean zero in a period of eight years.
The latter had been achieved by following international guidelines on stray population and rabies control, namely, vaccinating and neutering stray animals. There is, indeed, ample reason for the Indian Supreme Court to prohibit indiscriminate killing of stray dogs.
This goes beyond cost and ethics.
Mustafa Ahmed laments environmental and safety hazards of the practice of shooting dogs. Dog corpses are often left behind in the streets and improperly designed garbage areas to decompose, and host a new range of communicable diseases.
The wide use of 12-bore firearms in residential districts, at times with allegedly unavailable and expired licenses, raises concerns of its own.
Take a look: Is KU's mass dog-killing spree the only solution?
Organisations like PAWS and HFPC hope to rally ‘animal lovers’ to their cause, but frankly, ‘love’ is just one additional motivator sitting atop a pile of pragmatic reasons to end the culling.
Shooting stray dogs is nothing but an impractically expensive exercise in releasing pent-up human frustrations in savage ways — it is sadism seeking an excuse to exist.
Science won’t give it any, and neither should the residents of Clifton.