LAHORE: A protest was held at the Liberty Roundabout on Sunday against dog culling and general mistreatment of animals.

The protesters, especially the pet owners and activists, held a peaceful sit-in, holding banners inscribed with slogans to raise awareness about cruelty to animals. One of the banners quoted the Islamabad High Court, “Animals are non-human citizens of Pakistan”.

A recent case which they took up as an example of cruelty was the murder of a pet pit bull, called Chuck, in the DHA, and previous cases of the dogs, Bella and Kiki.

The demonstrators said the ‘cold-blooded incident had forced them to wake up before their own beloved pets are killed and the killers get no punishment’.

In order to express solidarity, other pet owners brought their pet pit bulls and made them stand next to a poster of Chuck.

“We should not let their deaths go in vain,” said Ayeza Haider, the main organiser of the protest.

“We stand for giving rights to all animals and stopping animal abuse of any kind. The government needs to stop this cold-blooded and relentless killing of street dogs.”

Other activists said that they needed the upgraded animal welfare laws that give protection to the animals and punish the culprits.

Abid Hafeez, an animal rights activist, termed the protest a commendable step that brought animal lovers and animal rescuers together in order to highlight one of the biggest issues concerning those who were voiceless.

“It is of utmost importance to stop dog culling and animal abuse and awaken the government from a deep slumber on the issue,” he said.

“The purpose of this protest is to call for an amendment to an old law, which gives no rights to stray animals. Animals should not be brutally murdered but provided TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and release) procedure.”

Both Hafeez and Ayeza said that instead of dog culling, there should be a more humane policy of ‘trap, neuter, vaccinate and release’ – something which has been approved by the World Health Organisation, and is practised around the world.

Nauman Khawaja, an activist and pet owner, said that since the past five years he had made a plan to create awareness among the children by taking his pets to school. He encouraged other activists to follow the strategy as it had made a change.

Khawaja himself had also recently lost his pet dog called Hatchi, the news of which had gone round instantly in pet circles. He is still searching for his pet.

Speaking to the media, he said that only those (pet) dogs became aggressive that were restrained for a long time, without any human interaction.

Another activist said that like the government had provided healthcare for humans, animals must also be provided good healthcare by the state.

PTI leader Muhammad Madni also made an appearance at the protest.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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