Shelter Homes (Kanji Houses) in the Punjab

Introduced during the British era, Kanji Houses were set up across various areas in Punjab for catching and sheltering stray animals roaming in Lahore. However in recent times some shelter houses have been transformed into government offices or rest houses, while many others are under the control of land occupation mafias, resulting in a scenario where no place is available for keeping stray animals, who are freely lurking around in the cities, posing a threat to the safety.

“There is an abundance of stray donkeys. Unfortunately, the corporation staff has not been able to catch them,” shared a resident of Lahore.

Similarly, the residents of the Ghaziabad area of Lahore were also fed up with the presence of stray dogs. “Every third day somebody from my area is bitten by a stray dog,” revealed a local from the area, who also claimed that the corporation staff failed to address the problem and refused to take the troublesome animals to a shelter house.

“Kanji Houses were meant to catch stray animals in the city so that they could not harm anyone. It is a pity that today these places have been turned into government offices,” lamented the administrator of the local cattle market, who further informed that due to a lack of space in Kanji House’s, people like him had to travel outside the city for locating a lost animal.

According to details obtained by the Express Tribune, Kanji Houses were established on more than 150 government owned plots across nine divisions, and 38 districts of Punjab for keeping stray animals and lost pets and livestock such as cows, buffalos, goats, cats, dogs and donkeys.

These stray animals were caught and kept in the Kanji House by the corporation staff, and were later handed over to its owner after they paid a fine. But nowadays, major districts of the province including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Sahiwal, have no functioning Kanji Houses, due to which the government has no place for keeping stray animals in these cities.

However, Tanvir Ahmed, the record keeper of a state-run Kanji House, claimed that a couple of stray animals had been caught after a long time, and the problem of stray animals in the city was resolving.

Nevertheless, Tanvir’s assertion appears dubious given the fact that the rate of catching stray animals has been consistently low over the past few years, but attacks on people by stray animals have been rising, with almost 1200 people injured across the Punjhab due to an attack by a stray animal. In this regard, a former DG of the local government said, “The evacuation of stray animals from the urban population has already been done. Now, the few lost animals that are caught, are sent to the animal market, where they are named, numbered and tagged before being returned to the owner.”

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