Drive to vaccinate 500,000 dogs in Sindh begins today

Updated November 21, 2019

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A pair of stray dogs crosses the arterial Shahrah-i-Shershah Suri in North Nazimabad on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A pair of stray dogs crosses the arterial Shahrah-i-Shershah Suri in North Nazimabad on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The Sindh local government ministry has finalised its ‘Fight against rabies and population control of street dogs’ programme and would begin vaccinating stray dogs on Thursday, officials said on Wednesday.

They said the PC-I of a comprehensive programme to rid the province of the alarming incidence of dog-bite cases had been drafted, which included all sorts of actions to control the population of dogs and fight rabies.

However, they added, the vaccination programme of 500,000 dogs in a year would begin in coordination with the municipalities concerned.

The vaccination of dogs would start from Karachi Central district, where the district municipal corporation has assigned 20 of its employees to get training from the experts belonging to nongovernmental organisations running hospitals and animal shelters.

The programme would be expanded to the rest of the provincial capital and elsewhere in Sindh with the municipalities concerned and experts provided by the LG ministry would be involved.

Suggestion to increase the fine for killing an animal with cruelty from Rs200 to Rs300,000

“The experts will train the municipal staff about safer ways to catch the stray dogs as well as the methods [of] how to vaccinate them,” said an official.

Officials said a meeting was held on Wednesday with LG secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh in the chair. MPA Nadir Magsi, ACF Animal Rescue’s Ayesha Chundrigar and representatives of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and the six DMCs of the city attended the meeting.

Additional secretary for local government Zahid Khemtio briefed the meeting on the PC-I of the programme and court orders on killing street dogs.

Dog culling

He said the LG department had killed 34,675 street dogs across Sindh.

Mr Shaikh said killing such a big number of dogs was a difficult task, which was being carried out as there was no other option. However, street dogs would not be killed after launch of the programme across the province.

Mr Khemtio said Karachi East was the city’s district where most (6,000) dogs were killed during the drive, while 540 dogs in Karachi West, 105 in Karachi South, 345 in Korangi, and 201 in Karachi Central were killed.

Elsewhere in Sindh, 11,455 dogs were killed in Benazirabad division, 7,374 in Hyderabad, 793 in Larkana, 5,110 in Mirpurkhas and 2,752 dogs were killed in Sukkur division.

Mr Shaikh said the new programme would adopt modern methods to control the dangers of stray dogs as so far centuries-old methods were in use.

He conceded that animal rights activists and bodies had expressed their resentment over the killing of such a huge number of stray dogs in the province.

Ayesha Chundrigar said most stray dogs did not carry rabies, and those animals needed love and care. She stressed that the programme should start as soon as possible.

The LG secretary said after vaccination and neutralisation of street dogs there would be no need to kill them. He added that the court would be informed about the programme at the next hearing. Officials said the new programme had set a target for itself of vaccinating at least 500,000 dogs.

“The dogs would be wearing collars after being vaccinated and released. In the next phase, they will be sterilised, which will help control their population,” said an official.

Salient features

The new programme discussed the current situation vis-à-vis actions in dealing with stray dogs. “Dogs are abused and killed openly by public and officials as the municipalities pay their people to murder innocent dogs,” it said.

“Openly dogs are poisoned and then their bodies are placed in a row to take photos; while organisations that are working for rabies-free campaigns have not applied international methods of rabies spread models.”

It said there had been zero data management system, which, in other words, was a useless campaign and a waste of money, when none of the vaccinated dogs was tagged.

“The current inhumane practices in Pakistan are shared all over the internet, which gives this country a very cruel and insensitive image across the globe.”

The PC-I referred to The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2018, approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior last year, which suggested increasing the fine for killing an animal with unnecessary cruelty from Rs200 to Rs300,000.

Cruelty to animals

It said animal cruelty was a gateway to crime as it could manifest itself as an interrelated crime with other offences such as domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse.

“Animal cruelty is also often a co-occurring offence with a multitude of at-risk behaviours and bullying.”

It said a well-reputed NGO in the past six years of work across Karachi had never encountered a dog with rabies.

According to the programme, a separate project director would be posted for the implementation of fight against rabies programme; he/she would be ‘director operation’ and would be responsible for planning and execution of the project in coordination with other heads of section of the livestock and fisheries department, Indus Hospital and NGOs to ensure efficient working of the programme.

In the first step, 500,000 dogs across Sindh will be vaccinated and tagged. Later, those dogs would be sterilised in 64 veterinary hospitals of the livestock and fisheries department before being released at their original locations.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2019