ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) seems to be helpless to check the rising number of stray dogs in residential sectors, public parks and commercial centres, creating problems for the residents.
The civic agency, meanwhile, takes the plea that the Islamabad High Court had ordered the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) to devise a policy to neutralise stray dogs due to which its campaign was getting affected.
Sources said during the last about a year the IWMB had not been able to prepare any policy. However, IWMB chairperson Rina Saeed Khan, when contacted, claimed that the board had already forwarded the policy on stray dogs to the CDA and it was now up to the civic agency to take the necessary measures.
CDA’s director general civic management Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, on the other hand, told Dawn that they were waiting for a workable policy from the IWMB.
Deciding the petition filed by Faryal Nawaz, a co-founder of an Islamabad-based NGO Help Welfare Organisation (HWO), the IHC had stopped the CDA and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) in June 2020 from shooting and poisoning stray dogs.
IHC had stopped civic agency from shooting, poisoning dogs in June 2020
Before the IHC’s verdict, personnel from the sanitation directorate of the civic agency would use shotguns or poison to kill hundreds of stray dogs in the residential areas of Islamabad on the pretext that they are a nuisance and health risk to citizens.
According to a senior CDA official, the sanitation directorate would kill about two dozen stray dogs daily, adding that the civic body was not in a position to take action against these dogs after the court’s order.
The issue of stray dogs is not a new phenomenon. According to an expert of civic management, the illegal or unauthorised settlements of G-12, H-13, along I.J. Principal Road and other suburbs of the capital served as sanctuaries for stray dogs.
Since these areas lack cover of municipal services and do not fall in the jurisdiction of the sanitation directorate, the dogs can find secure places to live and reproduce.
While majority of these dogs are found in such areas, some ‘migrate’ to settled areas.
The WHO guidelines about rabies state that there is no evidence to show that the killing of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on reducing stray dog population densities or the spread of rabies. Instead, the world health agency recommends mass dog vaccination programmes as the most effective measure to control rabies.
Across the globe, stray dogs are vaccinated rather than poisoned. Moreover, they are neutered to ensure they do not reproduce.
According to the petition filed in the IHC the departments like CDA, MCI or IWMB had never tried to implement more effective and humane methods such as mass vaccination to control stray dog populations and check the spread of canine diseases.
The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1890 criminalises the killing of any animal unnecessarily.
The petition points to Article 2 of the Constitution that cites several passages from the Quran and the prophetic traditions which promote the welfare of animals in support of its case.
When contacted, advocate Owais Awan, a lawyer who represented the NGO in the stray dogs matter, said the court restrained the sanitation directorate and asked the IWMB to devise a policy for stray dogs. He said the NGO and the board are trying to work on the matter.
According to him, it is a practice in developing countries that stray dogs are castrated, vaccinated and then released.
He said that in order to implement this strategy the CDA was required to capture and keep the dogs at some location. However, sources in the CDA said that under the Islamabad Land Disposal Regulations the civic agency could not allocate space for dogs. It also lacked the capacity to capture, castrate and vaccinate dogs since there are no veterinary doctors on its payroll.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2021