Recently, an unfortunate incident occurred in Karachi where two guard dogs mauled a man unprovoked. The victim retained serious injuries and it was found that the dogs had previously been involved in a similar attack. As a result of an out of court settlement with the dog’s owner, it was decided that the dogs would be euthanised so that no further incidents would take place and that a donation of PKR 1 million would be made to a charity of their choice.
However, this resulted in heated debates online where many criticised both parties for reaching such an inhumane decision. Moreover, after it was revealed that the donation had been made to ACF Animal Rescue many wondered why they hadn’t made efforts to rehome or retrain the dogs, paying no heed to the fact that ACF wasn’t privy to the details of the donation before it was sent and therefore they had no business being involved in a malicious smear campaign. Soon, after much public backlash, ACF announced they were going to return the donation they had received and would legally pursue those who had defamed them.
Dogs & Their Maltreatment In Karachi
We’re no strangers when it comes to the news of the mass culling of stray dogs in Karachi. With the number of pedestrian attacks on the rise, we see increasing reports of dogs being hunted down and brutally killed. According to the Health Minister of Sindh, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, it could take 10 years to control the population of stray dogs through vaccination and neutering in the province and even then, there wouldn’t be any surety that they wouldn’t bite and that the attacks would stop.
Increasing hostility from the residents of Karachi and indifference from government officials means that municipalities will continue their barbaric practices of mass cullings. According to OIPA,
Dogs are shot or poisoned and then their dead bodies are collected by municipal workers, loaded and piled onto trucks for disposal. Karachi and Lahore have the highest rate of dog killings each year with over 20,000 dogs killed in these two cities alone.
Being Responsible & Holding Lawmakers Accountable
Though very upsetting, this wretched event has highlighted the need for comprehensive laws regulating the ownership and training of dogs in Pakistan. As of yet, we have no definitive and authorized dog training centres in the city, let alone the country. Moreover, special breeds need to be registered and taken care of otherwise owners shouldn’t be allowed to keep them in their houses as pets.
Apart from building community awareness, we need to put an end to the legalised mass culling of strays and replace it with an ethical TNVR programme (trap-neuter/spay-vaccination-release). Moreover, we need to realise that ACF isn’t solely responsible for protecting and rescuing animals in our country, therefore, we need to establish government-funded organisations that will assist and provide expertise in stray dogs’ management, training and protection. Furthermore, cleanliness plays a vital role in preventing breeding grounds for stray dogs therefore, we need to ensure that neighbourhoods are free from garbage dumps and that proper sanitation takes place.
Lastly, it is important to note that the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 provides room to introduce a system that could provide protection against strays and ensure their safety. However, bylaws regarding strays haven’t been made yet. Pair that with the Cantonments’ Act of 1924 which allows the seizure and destruction of animals suspected to be suffering from any disease, or dogs which are without collars or marks distinguishing them as private property and we have got ourselves a very volatile situation with no way out.
Ensuring The Five Basic Freedoms For Animals
It isn’t widely known that Pakistan is a signatory member of the World Organization on Animal Health (OIE) and therefore, it should ensure the five basic freedoms for animals. These include:
- ensuring access to water and food so that animals are free from thirst, hunger and malnutrition.
- ensuring that they don’t suffer mentally or physically.
- providing suitable and safe accomodation for animals so they are free from discomfort.
- preventing diseases by prompt treatment and rapid diagnosis.
- allowing animals to express themselves in a normal environment by giving them proper facilities and the company of their own kind.
However, implementation remains far from becoming a reality, because in a country where human rights are often looked over how can we vow to protect animals? We live in a developing third-world country and with that title, we bear the brunt of corruption and state-level negligence. With citizens exercising their limited power in their private realms we have made advances, but we are far from becoming the poster child for animal rights anytime soon.
*Resources for this article have been gathered from DAWN news and the OIPA website.
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.