A dog’s life

There are some who argue that with people going hungry in the country, why should one spend so much on animals

Kamal Siddiqi August 21, 2016
The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

A nation is known by how it treats the voiceless and the meek. And if our attitude to dogs is anything to go by, we can be categorised as barbarians.

One can never figure out what most Pakistanis have against dogs. Street dogs are the worst off. Every person who comes near to one simply assumes that the dog will bite. This person then throws stones and injures the hapless dog, who in most instances is simply standing and doing nothing.

For some reason, the only dogs that we seem to appreciate are the German Shepherd or the Doberman or similar breeds. And the only way we seem to rear dogs is to train them to become vicious and unfriendly. The concept of a family dog eludes most of us. A dog can only be a watchdog. And a dog isn’t a dog if it doesn’t bite. Hence the perennial fear of being bitten by one.

There are some who argue that with people going hungry in the country, why should one spend so much on animals. This argument is flawed. One is not at the expense of the other. This righteous attitude in some only helps us as a nation to treat dogs in the worst manner possible. We see hundreds of abandoned animals on our streets because owners are simply tired of them and decide to throw them out.

There are some exceptions. It is such souls like Ayesha Chundrigar and people behind the Pets Network, who help relocate abandoned animals. These include dogs, cats, donkeys and many more. But these are few.

It is said by some that the only animals that Pakistanis really care about are the ones that they will eventually eat. This despite the fact that we are told pets help soothe people, especially those who are mentally or physically challenged. For such people it seems, in Pakistan we have Pirs and Mazars instead where we happily chain them to trees and other spots.

Imagine one’s horror when earlier this month, when according to Karachi DMC South administrator Muhammad Naeem, more than 800 stray dogs were poisoned. He said that he was receiving complaints from the residents regarding the rising number of dogs in the area.

Naeem seems to have been proud of his work, while a video of the dead dogs being hauled off to their final resting place after being displayed for all to see made it to social media. Imagine the horror of people around the world who saw this display of inhumanity. And we talk of ourselves as a people of peace.

There is another notice that has appeared on social media which announces that shooting of dogs will be carried out on August 23 at the Falcon Complex in Malir, Karachi. One can only wonder whether we as a nation have taken leave of all our senses.

If there anything worse than poisoning a dog, it is shooting them. I have seen this ugly side of our municipal authorities at Sea View some years back where members of an “anti-dog cell” calmly walked on the beach and took pot-shots at dogs within range, in full view of families, including children.

A letter written by Maheen Ghauri, a reader of this paper, stated that there is a simple, logical and humane solution to such problems. Forget about the West — even countries like India, Nepal and Thailand have animal birth control and vaccination programmes. They catch stray dogs from the streets, about 20 to 30 a day, sterilise them and even vaccinate them against rabies. They clip their ears so that people know they have undergone treatment. In Turkey, stray dogs and cats roam around freely and are even seen around restaurants and cafes. The strategy is to trap, spay or neuter, vaccinate and treat, and release them. Can we not do the same?

Why can we not establish animal shelters in the city? How much does it cost to innoculate strays against rabies and sterilise them? If this done, within a year one can see that the population of stray dogs would start to decline. By simply killing dogs in random exercises, what we see is that the population returns to its previous strength in a matter of years. But this would require planning and allocation of funds. Such luxuries are not for our animals.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2016.

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Bunny Rabbit | 7 years ago | Reply why lets street dogs flourish in the first place . better to annihilate them with one painless injection than they fall prey to wheels / poisson / bite and get bitten / scavenge and get diseases and infect passersby.
Shahid | 7 years ago | Reply Totally agree! Common sense and humanity is becoming scarce rapidly.
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