ISLAMABAD: While it is unethical and a violation of animal rights to kill dogs, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has established Pakistan’s first stray dog population control centre.
The centre at Park Road in Tarlai has the capacity to keep more than 500 dogs. Moreover, play, resting areas, a surgical unit, vaccination centre and a separate space for a laboratory have been allocated at the centre.
CDA Chairman retired Capt Mohammad Usman Younis, who is also the chief commissioner Islamabad, inaugurated the centre on Saturday.
A decade ago, wives of foreign diplomats in Islamabad started a campaign that dogs should not be killed rather neutered to ensure they would not reproduce. They also used to feed stray dogs and were of the opinion that if once a dog was neutered, they will eventually vanish from their area as they were territorial and never allowed outsiders to come to their areas.
CDA wants to ensure there is no cruelty towards animals, says chairman
In December 2018, Faryal Nawaz, a co-founder of Help Welfare Organisation (HWO), an Islamabad-based group that provides rescue services to stray and wild animals, filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) demanding 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 and should be stopped.
It was claimed that every year, personnel from the sanitation directorate used shotguns or poison to kill hundreds of stray dogs in the residential areas of Islamabad claiming that they were a nuisance and health risk to the citizens.
The petition used reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support its argument that killing of dogs did not reduce the threat of rabies and other diseases but can be counterproductive and can increase health risks.
The WHO guidelines about rabies stated that there was no evidence to show that killing of dogs alone had ever had significant impact on reducing stray dog population densities or the spread of rabies. Instead, the WHO recommended mass dog vaccination programmes as the most effective measure to control rabies.
Speaking on the occasion, CDA Chairman Usman Younis said Islamabad was the only city in the country where such a centre had been established.
He said complaints of stray dog bites had been received from different areas of Islamabad, especially from rural areas. But there was not a permanent solution. Due to the special interest of the current CDA administration, the centre has been established.
He added that human rights as well as animal rights were protected in developed countries.
The CDA administration, he added, wanted to ensure that there is no cruelty to animals and the issue is also resolved. The civil society has a very important role in this regard and the CDA administration has established this centre in collaboration with them, he said.
He requested the civil society to share their experiences with the CDA so that the centre could be made more effective to achieve desired results.
He directed the officers of the concerned departments to make the centre as an exemplary one so that it can be presented as a role model in the whole country.
He said it should be ensured that the dog catcher do not target any citizen’s pet during their operation, but action should be taken only where complaints were received.
Similarly, instructions to make proper SOPs for dog catchers were issued to the officers of the concerned departments. Instructions were also issued to keep dogs in the centre with complete SOPs.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2022