Stray dogs in the Diplomatic Enclave were vaccinated against rabies in May 2018. Wives of diplomats paid for the campaign and also made sure all dogs are administered the vaccines. It is sad as it is the responsibility of the citizens of Pakistan to look after the plight of all animals in the country which is not being done and instead undertaken by foreigners who are here for a short time.

Speaking to media persons, Marietjie Nicholson, a South African national said: “I have adopted two dogs and call them Margalla breed. We need more funds to vaccinate dogs. Luckily, the Australian defence attaché contributed funds with which we could vaccinate all the dogs in the Diplomatic Enclave. Dogs should be sterilised to ensure they do not reproduce instead of poisoning them,” she said.

“Dogs are territorial and will not allow other dogs to come to their area. Therefore, all the dogs in the Diplomatic Enclave are safe and have been vaccinated. People feed them due to which all the dogs here are healthy. People should know that dogs bite due to self-protection, as people beat and throw stones at stray dogs,” she said.

Ms Nicholson said she is considering extending the campaign to other parts of the capital as well. “Once a dog is vaccinated, it will be rabies-free for the rest of its life,” she said.

Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people via the saliva of infected animals and is usually transmitted through a bite. Linda Purke, an Australian who has been living in Pakistan for the last three years said there was a lack of awareness in people about stray dogs and also urged people not to poison dogs.

Poisoning dogs makes death painful for the animals and also affects the environment.

Poisoned dogs will try to get to water as they get very thirsty and will sometimes die in the water, affecting marine life as well.

Veterinary doctor Sajid Hussain said many foreigners are cooperating in the campaign and are providing funds for the cause.

He said a Facebook page titled Islamabad PAWS has been made and a website will also soon be launched.

The Islamabad High Court had asked the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) to formulate a comprehensive policy to control their population in a humane manner but nothing is being done in this regard.

The gradual increase in the number of stray dogs are scaring off the pedestrians. When contacted, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Director-General Sanitation Sarwar Sandhu said: “We cannot take any action against stray dogs as our hands are bound after the high court has empowered the IWMB to formulate a policy in this regard. At the moment, it is not our responsibility. We will only be participating once the policy comes out.”

According to an IWMB official, a dog population control program has been recommended in its policy aimed at reducing their growth in Islamabad without causing unnecessary and avoidable suffering. The program suggested castration of dogs, the establishment of dedicated sanctuaries and other measures with the help of relevant government and NGOs.

In Oct 2021, the Comprehensive Disaster Response Service (CDRS) started the first shelter home for stray dogs, cats and donkeys in Gulberg Green on the Expressway in Islamabad.

Special arrangements have been made for the training of injured animals in the shelter home. Under the CDRS’s Benji project, stray dogs will be vaccinated instead of being shot and poisoned, which will reduce their breeding ability and make them more humane.

In the first phase, more than 100 stray dogs, cats and donkeys will be provided facilities under this project. The inaugural ceremony of the CDRS Benji project was held in Islamabad.

Speaking at the event, CDRS founder Todd Shea said that during his visit to Turkey, he learned that dogs and cats were well cared for in Turkey. “Work has begun to care for 100 dogs, donkeys and cats. The scope of the program will be extended to the whole of Islamabad and then to the whole country. Shooting one dog with a bullet marker makes other dogs more aggressive and more bloodthirsty than before. The vaccine will lose the ability to breed,” he said, adding that these animals will live their natural life and die their natural death.

Todd said that not all dogs behave aggressively. Dogs are bullied and many dogs die in tragic conditions due to lack of medical facilities. A platform has also been built to commemorate the tragic deaths of animals.

Senior journalist Katrina Hosain, who is working on CDSR’s animal safety project, said that the project would rescue stray dogs and vaccinate them instead of killing them with poison and bullets. “Vaccines will destroy the ability of such dogs to breed and they will become human friendly. Donkeys that have been used to lifting weights all their lives will also be protected from dying in bad conditions. Dogs and cats will be rescued from the streets. Dogs have been killed for the last 40 to 50 years, but their population has not diminished,” she said.

She said that over 100 dogs would be provided facilities in the center. An ambulance will be used to shift the injured animals. A dog that is found to have the rabies virus will be killed without delay. Injured sick and emaciated dogs will be treated.

Under the project, the dog will be given bread instead of stoning.