The most vulnerable amongst us 

Published: March 18, 2019
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KARACHI: Every few months, we hear of the different municipalities of Karachi carrying out culling sprees, in which they either poison or shoot hundreds of stray dogs in bid to control their numbers.

In 2016, almost 800 dogs were poisoned by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). Many animal rights activists have spoken against this inhumane method of population control, but the city government has failed to stop the killings. we see numerous dehydrated and malnourished cats and dogs seeking shelter from the scorching sun, and trying to protect themselves from becoming road kill.

Many animal rights activists and foundations have called on neutering, vaccinating and rehabilitating stray dogs and cats so that they may find safe homes.

The Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation has also taken on the noble task of treating donkeys and camels that are used for labour. However, we need a more permanent and practical solution. We can adopt the model in place in Istanbul, Turkey, where an animal protection bill was passed in 2004 which forced municipalities to take care of the street animals.

The municipalities conducted vaccinations, sterilisation and grooming of all animals, after which they were tagged with a chip, which would create a record of the animal in a computerised database. This record would then be used to monitor the animal’s location and schedule the next vaccination and grooming.

The municipalities also set up animal hospitals to cater to injured animals. Residents actively leave out food and water for both cats and dogs, keeping them well-fed without having to take them in. The initiatives resulted in completely eradicating rabies in the city’s dog population in 2016, and a healthy population of stray animals.

Karachi’s city government and its residents should adopt this model to ensure our animals are taken care of. Killing our animals by poison or gun, or simply allowing them to die due to starvation or road accidents, shows how heartless we as a society are as we fail to care for the most vulnerable amongst us.

Shakila Farhad

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2019.

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