As rabid dog bite cases are on the rise in Sindh, the provincial government is launching a new initiative to control stray dog population and fight against rabies. Under the program, over 500, 000 dogs would be vaccinated and sterilised over the next year.
This is a humane method rather than the brutal centuries-old method of poisoning stray dogs. Animal rights activists have long campaigned that culling stray dogs is not the solution. They state that vaccination and sterilisation are the only way to control them for animal cruelty is a globally recognized offence.
Now the local government and NGOs have joined hands to draft the comprehensive control program. Municipal workers will be trained to capture and vaccinate stray dogs. The dogs will also be tagged and then be sent for surgery at several public veterinarian hospitals before being released again to their original locations.
Stray dogs have become a menace in our society. In Larkana, a six-year-old was brutally mauled by half-a-dozen rapid dogs. He is under intensive care at a hospital in Karachi and requires surgery to his mouth, face and jaws. Many people have resorted to extreme steps. A man in Karachi opened fire at a couple of dogs barking near his car. These acts of animal abuse cannot be condoned.
Acting on court orders, the local government had no other option but resort to killing over 35,000 street dogs. They soon realized that killing such a large number was an improbable task. However, now the stray dogs will no longer be killed; modern methods will be used to control rabies instead.
The abuse of stray dogs is common in our society with deep-rooted attitudes against them. Dogs are abused and killed openly while municipal workers are paid to poison them. Previously, municipalities had pellets which were given to dogs, but as local bodies suffered from mismanagement and corruption, these pellets were soon discontinued.
It is unclear how the current program will be financed but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Dogs are the product of their environment and will not attack if they are treated with care. There is a need to launch an awareness campaign to educate the masses, particularly children, on the behavior of dogs. They should be treated with kindness and compassion.