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ISLAMABAD: Residents of the capital are not allowed to keep pet dogs without the consent of their neighbours and a valid licence issued by the municipal administration.

However hundreds of people in the city keep dogs as pets without following the procedure, while the concerned authorities have failed to impose their rules and regulations.

Only 13 people in a city of 2 million hold valid licences for dogs, sources said.

“We issue licences after getting statements from two neighbours and checking the dogs’ vaccinations etc,” said a Directorate of Municipal Administration official, who added that there is no trend of acquiring licences in the capital.

He said the department has also never made a serious effort to direct people towards the licences.

Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) official Gul Sher, who deals with the licence department, confirmed that just 13 people in Islamabad possess a valid licence.

He said that his department is responsible for issuing licences, and when someone comes seeking one he completes the formalities – such as taking a Rs1,000 per year fee – and issues it.

Pet dogs are common among Islamabad residents, including Prime Minister Imran Khan who has a pet dog called Sheru.

When asked about the prime minister’s pet dog at his Banigala residence, the MCI official said his wing – which was previously a part of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) – only focuses on the capital’s urban areas.

“In the rural areas, including Banigala where the prime minister lives, the CDA has never tried to impose its regulations. So later, when this department was devolved from the CDA to MCI, we also never kept a focus on the rural areas,” he said.

According to its act, the MCI is to keep a regulatory check on the entire capital, but it has already been hobbled by its incomplete rules and lack of funding.

The CDA could not even impose its construction by-laws, resulting in thousands of unauthorised structures in the rural areas including Banigala, what to talk about checking dogs, said an MCI official who asked not to be named.

One of the 13 licence holders, Aamir Gill, told Dawn he sought a licence for the supremacy of the rule of law.

“I know there are only a few people who hold the licence, but being a lawyer I know the licence is an essential document that protects you from several challenges,” he said.

The MCI’s sanitation directorate also has a separate wing to kill stray dogs. Sanitation Director Sardar Khan Zimri said: “As far as pet dogs, we never kill them. We only go after the stray dogs whenever we receive complaints.”

Mr Zimri said that although residents are not permitted to keep pet dogs without a licence in the capital, but complaints about pet dogs are rare, barely one comes in every year. “That is why we keep a lenient approach towards pets,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018