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Mass shootings of stray dogs challenged in IHC

Updated December 16, 2018

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IHC directs civic agencies to respond to petition filed by animal welfare group. ─ Photo by Hunaira Mobin
IHC directs civic agencies to respond to petition filed by animal welfare group. ─ Photo by Hunaira Mobin

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) to respond within a fortnight to a petition filed by an animal welfare group seeking an end to the mass shooting of stray dogs by city officials.

The petition was filed by Faryal Nawaz, a co-founder of Help Welfare Organisation (HWO), an Islamabad-based group that provides rescue services to stray and wild animals in the twin cities and surrounding region.

The petition argued that the practice of shooting and poisoning healthy stray dogs by the CDA and MCI’s sanitation directorate was inhumane, and in violation of the Constitution, laws and Islamic principles.

IHC directs civic agencies to respond to petition filed by animal welfare group

Every year, personnel from the sanitation directorate use shotguns or poison to kill hundreds of stray dogs in the residential areas of Islamabad under the pretence that they are a nuisance and health risk to the citizens.

The petition used reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support its argument that the killing of dogs did not reduce the threat of rabies and other diseases but can be counterproductive and increase health risks.

The WHO guidelines about rabies state that there is no evidence to show that the killing of dogs alone has ever had significant impact on reducing stray dog population densities or the spread of rabies. Instead, the WHO recommends mass dog vaccination programmes as the most effective measure to control rabies.

The petition named the CDA, MCI and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) as respondents and said they had never attempted to implement more effective and humane methods to control stray dog populations or the spread of canine diseases such as mass vaccination and neutering.

The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1890 criminalises the killing of any animal unnecessarily.

However, section 17 of the law makes it inapplicable to public officials. But the petitioner claimed that this indemnity to public officials violated the Constitution.

The petition pointed to Article 2 of the Constitution, which declares Islam as the state religion and cites several passages from the Quran and the prophetic traditions which promote the welfare of animals in support of its case.

Justice Aamer Farooq ordered the CDA, MCI, IWMB as well as the attorney general of Pakistan to submit their responses within 15 days.

Across the globe stray dogs are vaccinated rather than being poisoned. Moreover, to reduce the number of stray dogs, they are neutered to ensure that they would not reproduce.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018

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