Warning: Article contains images of dead animals 

Images of dead stray dogs on display have been circulating around social media for a while now. These images are from Karachi, where local authorities have started a drive against stray dogs.

Recently the District Municipal Corporation (DMC) took action and poisoned a large number of stray canines in the provincial capital. According to DMC Central’s elected chairman, Rehan Hashmi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), around 1,050 stray dogs were poisoned to death. He claimed that the district administration was receiving complaints from the residents regarding the rising number of stray dogs in the area, after which they carried out the mass culling with the help of District Central deputy commissioner Capt (retd) Fariduddin Mustafa.

District Central information director told a local newspaper that nearly 1200 poisonous tablets were mixed in gulab jamuns (sweets) and dispersed around the city, which were consumed by the stray dogs. “The corpses of the dogs were later shifted to landfill sites” he said.

However stray dogs are not the only one who have consumed these sweets, reports emerged where pet dogs, while being walked by citizens, consumed such sweets and died. Incidents like these highlighted the arbitrary modus operandi of the initiative, where anyone could come in way of serious harm due to this.

Citizens have also shown concern that these poisonous sweets can even be consumed by the homeless and street-children, people who may not have a regular source of food and might eat these sweets.

It cannot be denied that the teeming population of stray dogs poses a threat to pedestrians and many are harmed due to such stray dogs. According to Jinnah Hospital’s Head of emergency Seemi Jamali, only last year the hospital treated nearly 6,500 cases of dog bites, and this was only one of the hospitals in the giant of a metropolis that is Karachi.

But is this the way to tackle this problem? We have recently witnessed a rise in animal centers in Pakistan, such as Todd’s Welfare Society and others of its kind. This shows a growing empathy and concern for animals in the general populace. All around the world government policies protect animals from senseless cruelty and harm but this seems not to be the case in Pakistan.

Our policy to tackle the growing population of stray dogs remains barbaric and inhumane.

A better way to deal with this problem would be making animal shelters, but obviously the government does not have the funds to fund such an initiative. In such a case, partnerships with NGOs would be the answer. Government can transfer these animals to numerous animal shelters around the city, and if we really think about it these dogs could even be put to good service. By training these canines as security dogs or helpers for the visually impaired, we not only help the disabled and provide security to local communities but we also make sure these animals get a better life and not the fate of dying at the hands of poison.

I cannot say whether or not the local governments and bodies are concerned with how animals are treated but there are many of us who care, and we could play some small part in saving these animals. So the next time you see a stray dog, instead of shooing the poor beast away, take it to an animal shelter.


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