KARACHI: The Sindh local government ministry has planned to launch a three-year scheme to reduce population of stray dogs and control rabies in the province which includes establishment of 64 sanctuaries with around 20 in Karachi, officials have told Dawn.

The officials said secretary of local government Roshan Ali Shaikh presided over a meeting over the issue at his office recently.

The meeting participants discussed the three-year project aimed at reducing population of street dogs and controlling the alarming incidence of rabies cases.

The meeting participants were told a campaign to vaccinate stray dogs had already begun in Karachi and elsewhere in the province.

The officials said experts in animal rights and other stakeholders participated in the meeting, who discussed vaccination of dog-bite victims and animals.

A key feature of the programme is to establish 64 sanctuaries or centres in Sindh, 20 in Karachi, where street dogs would be kept and treated.

A programme to sterilise dogs would also be part of the overall scheme.

New law on animal rights

During the meeting four committees were formed, which included a committee headed by adviser to chief minister on law Barrister Murtaza Wahab to draft a law vis-à-vis animal rights.

The committee has been asked to draft a bill within 20 days before it was formally vetted by the law ministry and submitted before the Sindh cabinet for approval.

The four-member committee would study various laws being practiced by various countries in the world to protect animals and take assistance from them to draft a piece of legislation in conformity with ground realities of Sindh.

Another committee has been formed to prepare a PC-I of the project.

The plan was originally discussed with Local Government Minister Nasir Shah in an earlier meeting in which he had given his approval and assured the participants that such a scheme could be started from the current fiscal because of its great importance.

The officials said the PC-I would be prepared as soon as possible to get it approved by the competent authority.

Another committee was formed for social mobilisation. An expert in the meeting said most stray dogs were free from rabies; yet, whenever a rabid dog bit anyone, it was a common sight that people of the area would kill several animals that were completely harmless.

The meeting participants were told that many children in society were not properly educated to be sympathetic and kind towards animals and they often treated animals violently.

“Instead of showing love and compassion towards animals, most children beat them; thus, some of the beaten dogs bite them back in reaction,” said a participant.

During the social mobilisation campaign, officials said, it was decided to increase schoolchildren’s awareness regarding animals.

Besides, lessons on loving animals could be made part of school curricula.

Another committee would collect correct data about the population of dogs in Sindh.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2019

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