Three departments along with the municipal authorities will be responsible for eliminating stray dogs in order to protect the citizens in the province due to lack of coordination and clear demarcation of responsibilities while amending the laws.
Letters have been sent to the local bodies in order to bring the local government, health and livestock departments, and district administration together for the purpose.
According to officials, the epidemiology department earlier functioned in the local bodies across Punjab, including Lahore.
Responsibilities were assigned to the employees of the department and the expenses were borne by the local bodies to protect the citizens from seasonal diseases, as well as mosquitoes and stray dogs. Through the budgets, cartridges and poison were purchased to kill the stray dogs and the record of the action was maintained and monitored.
Now, separate education and health authorities have been created at the district level through amendments to the local government laws. The task of eradicating mosquitoes and protecting citizens from dog bites has apparently been entrusted to the health authorities but their officials are still shifting the responsibility to the municipal bodies.
The steps taken in this regard by the local bodies are supposed to be supervised by the health and livestock departments. On the other hand, the people have not been informed about the offices where they should file complaints about stray dogs.
Instead of killing stray dogs, a sterilization program has been planned to prevent their breeding. Responsibilities have been assigned to the local government department in this regard, which has started training on dog population management.
Under the project, a training session for the officials concerned has been started at the Veterinary University in collaboration with the health, livestock, and local government secretaries, health services director-general, and all chief officers of municipal bodies.
On the other hand, the Punjab Local Bodies Department has issued letters to the district and tehsil authorities in the Lahore, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Multan, Faisalabad Gujranwala, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Rawalpindi divisions asked them to share information about the focal person, his designation, phone numbers, email address and registration numbers of the vehicles used to catch stray dogs so that the complaints of citizens being bitten by stray dogs across Punjab can be reduced.
The local government department has been directed to provide the information immediately.
Teams are being formed by the metropolitan and municipal corporations in cities and the health and livestock departments in tehsils and towns to catch stray dogs with nets.
The health department will vaccinate the dogs so that people will not be harmed by their bites. They will also be sterilized with the help of the livestock department.
Under the old local body systems, there was a department of epidemiology and the responsibilities were assigned to it but now the three departments will work together. This will make it difficult to fix the responsibility in case of failure.
Commenting on the matter, Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal said steps were being taken to protect the citizens from stray dogs. Employees are being trained for the purpose. He said a procedure to ensure safety of citizens while avoiding cruelty with animals was being introduced across the province.