With a growling stomach, a homeless dog's eyes light up as it sees a proper meal after days of mealy scraps. What the poor animal does not know is that will be his or her last meal as moments later he or she will be frothing at the mouth, left to die an agonising death through poisoning.
Others are simply shot dead and dumped like garbage, possibly wagging their tail at the gunman before he pulls the trigger on their life.
Some of the thousands of victims may be little puppies looking for something to play with or mothers finding food for their litters, but for the administration, the living things are nothing more than statistics for their performance report.
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In 2015, Swat, DI Khan and Peshawar killed the largest number of ownerless or abandoned dogs. Information on the ranking was provided by the District Performance Monitoring Framework (DPMF) website of the K-P chief secretary’s office.
The system checks the performance of district administrations across the province through some key performance indicators. This comprises statistics on municipal services delivery which includes the killing of dogs.
Swat’s district administration killed 5,601 dogs, DI Khan 4,714 and Peshawar came third with 4,606 dogs – all in 2015.
Hit men looking for a wag
The Peshawar cantonment board has appointed two gunmen specifically for the purpose of shooting down homeless dogs. After the animal is killed, the bodies are simply disposed like garbage at the board’s dumping trenches, said an official, requesting anonymity.
“The shooters are followed by a pickup van and make routine visits to kill stray dogs and dump them,” said the official. He added special tokens have been issued for pet dogs and animals are properly documented with the board which has issued licences to the owners.
The official said since there was a ban on firing in the Red Zone of the Cantonment, authorities mix poison with minced meat and leave it for the unsuspecting animals.
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“Our shooters have licensed rifles and they visit areas in the evening; a time when dogs come out from their dens and nearby farms.”
The official reveals there is a fatwa from a mosque which states stray dogs are dangerous and likely to harm humans. Therefore, it declares they can be killed. “We use the fatwa as a motivational tool for the shooters whenever they become sceptical [of their actions],” the official said.
Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Sajid Khan said he has no information on the matter as it is dealt with at the town level and relevant officials will be in a better position to explain.
Where the govt doesn’t stray
Social activists and animal rights defenders of the city are against the culling of dogs and regret that there is no shelter for stray animals.
Ammar Gul Khan, a social activist, plans to start a shelter for stray animals and establish it is an example for the government and wealthy people to follow.
“The way these animals are treated is wrong. We need to create awareness about animal rights and the misconceptions about dogs,” he said. Ammar Gul added he and one of his teachers have planned the shelter as none exists in the city at the moment. Ammar, who has organised pet shows in the provincial capital, believes wealthy citizens can easily help meet the expenses and the initiative will serve as inspiration for the government.
“We need to visit schools and colleges to raise awareness on the subject and counter misperceptions.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2016.