Clip_68In some parts of the world, dogs are considered man’s best friend.

In Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, the city managers consider them nothing more than moving targets.

Zeeshan Munir decided to write to the chairman of the capital’s civic agency against the brutal killing of stray dogs after a two-day shooting spree carried out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The 28-year-old said he would offer to establish a sanctuary for stray dogs, provided the CDA could earmark a piece of land in the capital or its suburbs. “I can run the shelter at my cost,” Munir said. Incidentally, AMINALS has repeatedly been approaching the CDA with the same offer.

A lawyer by profession, Munir also runs a small business in Islamabad. “I own four dogs of different breeds,” he added.

The inhumane shooting of 106 stray dogs by two CDA teams for two consecutive days persuaded Munir to raise a voice for them.

“It’s not acceptable to kill an animal in such a brutal way. It does not happen in civilised societies,” said an emotional Munir.

Reflecting the motive behind his idea to establish a home for stray dogs, he stated that instead of launching inhumane drives for shooting dogs, CDA should opt for a neutering campaign to control the population of abandoned dogs.

A press statement issued by the CDA says, “On the direction of CDA Chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif, the sanitation directorate killed 106 stray dogs.”

The sanitation directorate has constituted two teams, each comprising three dog shooters. During the past two days, the teams have shot 106 stray dogs in sectors G-6, G-7, G-8, F-6, E-11, Blue Area, model towns,Police Lines, Bari Imam and around Faisal Mosque.

Salman Ahmad, a volunteer at Bahria Animal Rescue Foundation Islamabad and Rawalpindi (BARF-IR) deplored the incident, saying only rabid dogs were killed by shooting.

“If it’s necessary to put down a sick animal, an injection with a heavy dose of anaesthesia is used. It makes the killing less painful, but it is only for sick or incurable animals, not for healthy ones.” He said shooting stray dogs and cats is widely practised by the municipalities of poor countries, where no arrangements exist to take care of abandoned animals. “But it’s globally treated as a violation of animal rights.”

BARF-IR is a non-profit organisation formed to help animals, which are in poor health or otherwise neglected. Rescued animals are put up for adoption.

The CDA sanitation directorate has launched several street dogs’ elimination campaigns. An official of the sanitation directorate said, “In Rawalpindi the municipality eliminates dogs in the capital by poisoning or shooting them.” Building a shelter for dogs or carrying out neutering campaigns would be a costly and time-consuming exercise and requires funds, while a bullet costs only Rs22, he added.

A CDA spokesperson said the drive was initiated following residents’ complaints about the abundance of stray dogs in their vicinity. The majority of complaints received were from model villages, especially Rawal Town, he added. “The drive will continue till a significant number of dogs are eliminated.”

Meanwhile, veterinarian Dr Faisal Khan, who runs Pets and Vets in Islamabad, admitted that keeping stray dogs at shelters is costly, but opposed the CDA’s move to shoot strays on sight. He also pointed out a major flaw in the poisoning policy. “In the past, the CDA used to poison stray dogs, but it also impacted house pets which sometimes left the house and ate the poisoned food.”

Dr Khan also questioned how the CDA can distinguish between a stray and a domestic dog, as domestic dogs missing collars or tags are also killed in such drives. He said it is the responsibility of residents to register their dogs and put collars around their necks.

The data available dog bites in Pakistan, though unofficial, reveals that well above 150,000 dog-bite cases are reported each year of which between 2,000 to 5,000 have no other option but death because of developing rabies.Unaware of the shocking fatality of a dog bite, most of the victims remain at the losing end after developing symptoms of rabies.

DogsA virus carried in the saliva of infected animal causes rabies, a severe viral disease, that is fatal if not treated properly. It affects the central nervous systems of most warm-blooded animals and victims of such animal bites have to be immediately vaccinated. After exposing to the disease, the victim’s survival is impossible, as has been reported around the globe.

In Pakistan, in more than 95 percent rabies cases, the rabid animal is dog. According to a majority view, to eliminate rabies, stray dogs should be eliminated. Such an approach is nothing short of shocking. This is the height of cruelty. What is the fault of the stray dogs? The problem can easily be resolved by resorting to a humane and civilized way: shifting all these stray dogs to a Dog Shelter. 

The biggest problem we have as a nation regarding animal rights is that many of us don’t even consider violations to be an issue.

Many cities in Pakistan have government employees whose job is the eradication of stray dogs.

They roam the streets searching for strays, and shoot them on sight. Sometimes the first bullet only maims, and the shooter then must walk towards the dog to shoot again.

Others do not shoot but poison the stray dogs.

After all these years of violence day in and day out, it is difficult for a normal human not to be psychologically scarred.

Islam Safeguards Animal Rights
Islam teaches us to care for animals so much that we have been told not to keep birds in cages. If God created these creatures with intellect and emotions and gave us specific instructions as regards their treatment, who is anyone to say they don’t matter?

Our government is slaughtering animals by shooting them with guns and strychnine poisoning. At this point, what right do we have to call Pakistan an Islamic Republic, unless we mend our ways?

The tragedy is that our governments not only allow this practice to continue, but sometimes announce rewards for killing the stray dogs.

According to the PAWS website, “the Government plans to spend Rs 200,000 to give bonuses to “best performing employees”. Even civilians are rewarded for bringing in a severed tail. As member Sabasays, if this money was spent instead on the method supported by the WHO that recommends a long term strategy of catch/ neuter/ vaccinate/ release as the only effective and humane method for dealing with rabies and stray populations. The first beneficiaries of this particular effort would be humans as this decreases health risks for us.

In 2005, Karachi City Nazim, Niamatullah Khan requested the EDO Health to provide the “required number of capsules for killing stray dogs”, against which Mahera Omar, founding member of PAWS (Pakistan Animal Welfare Society) urged her fellow Pakistanis to petition against. She called this method cruel, ineffective, and detrimental to the environment.

Animal Abusers Are Violent People
My father once had the misfortune of seeing a dead dog lying on its side, with bullets wounds on its body. Once shot, the strays are left to rot on the street, sometimes reportedly picked up to be used for their fat, which is converted to oil and sold to street vendors.

Syed Rizvi, President of Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights has pointed out that:

“The way in which we treat animals also impacts upon how treat each other… in extensive research conducted by Ken Shapiro PhD (Harvard) of Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a direct link was made between violence in society and animal abuse”.

Government’s Rhetorical Speeches
On World Animal Day on October 5, 2011, former PM Gilani spoke of our religious duty to care for the well-being of animals, but did not touch on the subject of animal rights violations inPakistan, let alone offer any solutions. How will there ever be an improvement when our leaders do not admit there is a problem?

One cannot be a good human being without a moral compass which demands the humane treatment of animals. No one is being asked to adopt a pet or to keep a dog inside their home. All that we ask you to do is to petition to the relevant authorities for these atrocities to cease, or at the very least, admit we are wrong in allowing them to occur.