KARACHI: Concerned residents of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), who care for animals, have reported that the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) has started culling stray dogs in their area.

Many of the dogs that have vanished were being fed and cared for by the residents, who also claim that the poor animals were also guarding their neighbourhoods against burglars.

“They are no particular breed, just stray animals but they remained alert at night, which gave us a lot of peace of mind,” a resident of DHA Phase VIII told Dawn.

“In return for their loyalty and love we would offer them some leftovers. Everything was fine until the CBC decided to catch them and kill them,” the resident added with a lump in his throat.

So many areas of DHA have been cleared of stray dogs, who were quite friendly. “Many of them were spayed, neutered and vaccinated too,” said another concerned resident and animal rights activist Haniyeh Shaikh.

Cantonment board says it has invited concerned residents and members of animal rights organisations for a meeting tomorrow

“My own pet dog Crystal was taken away by the CBC. When I found out and located her, they took Rs6,000 from me for releasing her. My dog was even wearing a collar,” Haniyeh informed.

“So many of these dogs that they are taking away are old and quite helpless. The poor creatures are very friendly, too. The animals are not wild but the CBC staff responsible for all this are quite wild. They are inhumane. A few days ago when they were taking away little puppies from the Creek Vista Apartments area, they were stopped by a housewife but instead of listening to her reasoning they pushed and beat her up for coming in their way,” said Haniyeh.

“Last Friday, many of us residents visited the CBC office to speak to them. We were very polite and civil towards them but they sounded so rude and angry. They told us that they were going to wipe out the population of dogs from DHA. Then when some residents also looked unhappy they told us that they were not culling the dogs but relocating them, which is a bunch of lies. We don’t believe that because there is no place for relocating the dogs here,” she said.

Jude Allen — who started ‘I am Noor Jehan Movement’ after watching the zoo elephant suffer so badly due to sheer incompetence and lack of empathy by the government — was also at the CBC office with the others on Friday with a plea to not hurt the stray dogs.

“We went there in a group. We met several high-ups there, who didn’t look impressed at all,” he said.

“At first they denied everything. But we had photographic and video evidence of their activities. Even the person in those videos we saw at the CBC office. So they had to admit. After much effort to make them understand that the dogs were harmless, they told us to keep them in our houses. But we already have made many of them our pets and are taking care of them. We can’t possibly keep them all,” he said.

“Then we were told by a Mr Najeeb there that if we are serious about this issue, we should work on a trap, neuter, spay and release roadmap. We have called a meeting at Aunty Park on Tuesday to discuss this with all those who care about these poor dogs because our next meeting with CBC is to take place on Thursday [tomorrow],” he added.

Jude said that the movement he had started itself is to raise awareness about how governments exploit animals for money. “The movement also covers senseless killings of innocent street animals by the CBC and KMC, who have absolutely no shame or fear of God for their actions,” he said.

Mahera Omar, the co-founder of the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (Paws), was also very sad about what has been going on. “Albert Einstein once defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ Such is the case with municipal authorities in Karachi, who continue to mercilessly kill dogs in an attempt to eradicate them from the city,” she said.

“What the authorities should have been implementing by now is a humane citywide mass vaccination drive to control rabies in street dogs. With the disease in check in the animal reservoir, chances of transmission to humans decreases considerably. And if they engage with local communities to educate them on dog behaviour and bite prevention, it can reduce the incidences of dog bites across the city.

“Cleaning up the mounds of garbage in our neighbourhoods will also eventually see an overall decline in the street dog population. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, and dealing with the situation requires political will and a sustained multi-pronged approach,” she explained.

“Shooting and poisoning dogs is not only cruel and barbaric, but it does not decrease their population as dogs from other areas move in to fill the void. Killing dogs also does not prevent the spread of rabies. When dogs are removed, their population is continuously changing. They may be unstable or aggressive and multiply at a high rate while carrying rabies,” she said.

On being approached by Dawn, a CBC spokesperson acknowledged that they have been receiving lots of complaints about stray dogs and also accusations about culling dogs.

“Therefore, we have invited all the animal rights organisations and concerned residents to the CBC office on Thursday [tomorrow] to further discuss the matter and chart out a way forward,” the spokesperson said.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2023

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