PAWS working to establish 24-hour ambulance service for animals in Karachi

Published: August 8, 2012
Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia want to establish a state-of-the-art emergency medical centre for animals. The puppy pictured on the right was hit by a car in DHA, as a result of which its leg was injured. A PAWS volunteer picked the puppy up and brought it to the Karachi Animal Hospital, where it was treated by Dr Otho, who is holding the puppy in the picture. PHOTO COURTESY: PAKISTAN ANIMAL WELFARE SOCIETY

Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia want to establish a state-of-the-art emergency medical centre for animals. The puppy pictured on the right was hit by a car in DHA, as a result of which its leg was injured. A PAWS volunteer picked the puppy up and brought it to the Karachi Animal Hospital, where it was treated by Dr Otho, who is holding the puppy in the picture. PHOTO COURTESY: PAKISTAN ANIMAL WELFARE SOCIETY

Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia want to establish a state-of-the-art emergency medical centre for animals. PHOTO COURTESY: PAKISTAN ANIMAL WELFARE SOCIETY
Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia want to establish a state-of-the-art emergency medical centre for animals. The puppy pictured on the right was hit by a car in DHA, as a result of which its leg was injured. A PAWS volunteer picked the puppy up and brought it to the Karachi Animal Hospital, where it was treated by Dr Otho, who is holding the puppy in the picture. PHOTO COURTESY: PAKISTAN ANIMAL WELFARE SOCIETY

KARACHI: If your cat swallows a ball of fur or your dog eats chocolate, don’t panic. All you have to do is call the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and they will help your distressed pet.

The society, which was founded in 2004 by Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia, is currently trying to establish a shelter and medical facility exclusively for animal emergencies. It will be equipped with X-ray and ultrasound machines as well as operation theatres. The facility will also have a 24-hour ambulance service. Treatment will be provided not only to cats and dogs, but other animals such as donkeys, horses and mules as well.

But Omer acknowledges that this will be a challenging task, given that the society has limited resources at its disposal. PAWS does not have an office, shelter or clinic of its own and relies entirely on volunteers to help pick up injured animals from the streets and coordinate with private veterinary clinics for treatment. The founders hope to launch the 24-hour ambulance service first, which they feel is achievable with a little help from animal lovers.

Most of the rescued animals are currently given shelter at Karachi Animal Hospital, which is a private clinic in DHA, or PetVet Emergency Veterinary Clinic. But since the facilities have limited space, the co-founders sometimes have to take abandoned cats to their houses.

PAWS also provides advice on animal care and helps find foster homes for animals. Dr Ayaz Ali, one of the vets who treat animals for PAWS, said that the organisation gets between four to 12 calls per week for rescuing stray animals.

“If the animal is badly injured, I take it to a shelter in a taxi or a rickshaw,” he said. “If there is no shelter available, I take it to my house.”

Omer lamented the lack of infrastructure for animal welfare in Karachi.

Though the government has established the Richmond Crawford Hospital, the quality of its services has been waning.  She said that most people usually don’t care about ailing animals. “They need to realise that if we help a donkey or a goat, then we might be indirectly helping those people who need them to earn a living,” she said.

Omer said that people weren’t always apathetic to the suffering of animals. Until the early 90s, the Society for Preventing Cruelty to Animals, which comprised of civil society members as well as government officials, was very active.

Back then, they had the authority to punish people for being cruel to animals, which the NGOs cannot do today.

She pointed out that the even if PAWS establishes a shelter and vaccinates animals, very few people would be willing to adopt them. She feels that people like to own only pedigreed animals. “This mentality needs to be changed. People need to open their hearts for all animals.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Awans
    Aug 8, 2012 - 12:43AM

    Yeah Saeen to Saeen , Saeen ka Kutta or Billa bhu Saeen. Not all Ordinary Hospitals have Ultrasounds and fully equipped operation theaters but these animals are lucky to get this treatment
    .I have one question that Is it possible for a poor person to use Ultrasound and Operation theatre of this facility by Registering himself as a Dog or some other animal or not??


  • kaka
    Aug 8, 2012 - 3:11AM

    Pakistanis have indeed taken another leap in its services to humanity..Animals should get all medical facilities they need before a regular citizen gets it..


  • Zeenat Ansari
    Aug 8, 2012 - 3:33AM

    @Awans you might be better served if you asked the question what is your contribution to make people less fortunate have availability to use Ultrasound and Operation theater and proper medical facilities. It is easy to question the motives of others specially when one lacks in motive except to write unnecessary comments.


  • s shah
    Aug 8, 2012 - 5:33AM

    @Awans: Have some compassion for innocent and helpless animals. If one cannot stop all suffering it does not mean that one should not do whatever is in one’s power to stop some suffering at least. The goal should be to have hospitals for the poor as well as hospitals for animals. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are enough resources in the world for both, one just needs to have compassion and determination in one’s heart!


  • farhan
    Aug 8, 2012 - 7:22AM

    @awans who’s your saeen?


  • FDR
    Aug 8, 2012 - 9:35AM

    The comments here show how completely heartless we as a nation have become. I hope and pray that PAWS gets success enough to be a nationwide presence in the same way Edhi is. It is a great endeavor and hopefully it will help stone-hearted Pakistanis to gradually develop affection and care for not just animals in need but humans as well.

    If you people cannot even understand the concept of taking care of an animal that has no words to defend itself, in what possible capacity can you say that humans should come first? Learn to care first, learn to soften your hearts then talk about care.


  • Aug 8, 2012 - 10:56AM

    This is the clearest sign yet of Pakistan’s emerging urban middle class over the last decade.


  • Raza Khan
    Aug 8, 2012 - 11:29AM

    Where to contact you?


  • Ozymandias
    Aug 8, 2012 - 12:16PM

    @Zeenat Ansari:
    Ignore him. These people have nothing better to do than criticise. Don’t dignify him with a response.


  • Aftab
    Aug 8, 2012 - 12:20PM

    Its good initiative by PAWS. Really admirable. The real problem is to decide whose life is superior; human or puppy. Some friends are getting confused with it. The truth is we are not still reach to such level of development that all humans are getting proper basic life facilities in our country.


  • Muna
    Aug 8, 2012 - 1:08PM

    How we treat our animals is a litmus test of our attitude to life! PAWS is filling a huge gap between public and private ‘management’ of urban animal life and deserves to be supported not only by all animal lovers, but also by the city administrations.


  • Farah
    Aug 8, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Animals are gods creations as well. If someone is working for their welfare he/she should not be discouraged. There may not be a vast existence of hospitals for humans but on the other-hand there is a severe paucity of animal-hospitals. PAWS is doing what many cannot. I salute their efforts. I am an animal lover but i am helpless when it comes to taking in homeless animals only because my family and i are not on the same page,also we have cats of our own. So anyone who works for the welfare of animals is very close to my heart. Dr Otho is a fabulous person, he is selfless in his work and works at odd-hours. I have a lot of respect for him. Keep up the good work PAWS and Dr. Otho. Haters please don’t hate just for the sake of hating. Human beings have tongues and can register their pain and discomfort, animals cannot, that’s why they need to be dealt with mercifully. Have a heart!


  • Random
    Aug 8, 2012 - 1:36PM

    Umm I wonder if I can give my Zakat to this place. Love the service they are providing…


  • junaid
    Aug 8, 2012 - 2:08PM

    Great initiative. Keep it up!.. Dont let hope.


  • Bashir
    Aug 8, 2012 - 2:10PM

    Are there so less resources wth us that we have to compete with animals? shameful!


  • Aug 8, 2012 - 3:14PM

    @Random: Donation information is up here:


  • Irfan
    Aug 8, 2012 - 4:08PM

    Great effort, really appreciate it.


  • maheen
    Aug 8, 2012 - 5:34PM

    i don’t know why some people react with an ‘animals vs human’ argument to this amazingly positive piece of news. 1) these are two different issues – PAWS is dealing with (other) animals whereas other organizations are dealing with humans 2) kindness to animals who are completely defenseless is to be applauded. the people who feel so strongly about “humans should come first” should put this sentiment to real use and get out there and do something to alleviate the pain of the humans that is seeming to bother them so much that they feel PAWS (who is doing amazing work) is in the wrong. STOP COMPARING people – just get out there and do what you can to help whichever of God’s creatures you are inclined to help!


  • Aug 8, 2012 - 8:06PM

    Please approve our comment as well, moderator :-)


  • Awans
    Aug 8, 2012 - 9:32PM

    @s shah: O come on It was a Sarcasm and a Metaphorical Statement and you did not understood what i meant to say at all. I love animals more than others in Pakistan as I have dogs and Cats as pets and i know how to take care of them and also My religious Believes are not a hindrance in having them.


  • Aug 8, 2012 - 10:04PM

    Not this one, the other very long one!


  • Pakistani Agnostic
    Aug 8, 2012 - 11:28PM

    Would love to donate to this place. Well done!


  • Rameez
    Aug 9, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Wao ..this is wonderful gesture ..great to know such initiative taken in Pakistan..I am an Indian and I have not seen this even in India..great keep it up ..Salute to u all in Pakistan for this kindness.


  • Parvez
    Aug 9, 2012 - 12:58AM

    A worthy cause and should be supported because animals give their love and devotion without asking anything in return the same can’t be said about most humans.


  • mehreen
    Aug 9, 2012 - 4:46AM

    Excellent initiative :) Hats Of to Paws


  • mehreen
    Aug 9, 2012 - 4:47AM

    And please let me know how can i volunteer in lahore, would love to part of this noble cause.


  • Aug 9, 2012 - 6:58AM

    @Zeenat Ansari: Thank you Zeenat for your comments and support to this noble cause. Briefly, Kaka and Awans have conveniently forgotten that all life is precious. Every living thing emanates from Him and will return to Him.

    We mistreat and kill animals randomly and mercilessly and do not care a hoot what to talk of two. The past and present governments have abundantly demonstrated and manifested their incompetence and the change in Pakistan, will especially come from Karachi Shareef.

    Please read further. The American Red Indians were noted for their love of nature and killed only to provide for their families during the year. They only killed what was necessary and this is a well documented fact (late Louis Lamour). When Mauritius was discovered, the Dodo bird was exterminated for food because it was unafraid of the new settlers and did not hide from them, not having seen them before. It has been extinct for over a hundred years.

    Please look at Edhi, Chippa, Khidmat e Khalq, Aman Ambulance, Citizens Foundation, Al Mustafa Trust, Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Civil Hospital Patients Welfare Society, SIUT, Kidney Center. What happened to Richmond Crawford Veterinary Hospital next to Radio Pakistan? These started through a self help approach and gradually came to be recognized.
    Our ubiquitous molvis blare their lungs out in ‘bayans,’ but do they dare take a step to welfare.

    The gentlemen mentioned above have far to go in understanding the value of life but wish them luck in acquiring and understanding the knowledge around us. Please accept my Salams.


  • current
    Aug 9, 2012 - 11:07AM

    even i will donate to Paws!…


  • sars
    Aug 9, 2012 - 11:17AM

    Maybe if as a society we taught children to care about the suffering of all beings(animal or human) we would produce less people with absolute disregard for humanity , which is where we are currently at


  • Wu
    Aug 9, 2012 - 10:57PM

    Dear PAWS,

    you are doing a great job, also in the name of Pakistan.

    You show real humanity! What is human? It is empathy towards the other living on this earth.

    Too many humans feel so above the other creatures, with what right? Are we to decide the value of a life, I would definately not dare to do so.

    Do not forget, we are guests on this earth, for just a glimpse in time. Do we really behave like good guests and care for the living? This is our job…! By living I mean all life. We all are a part of creation and have the duty to care.

    Poverty will not be eliminated completely, but we can make this earth a little more loving by respecting all life.


  • Wu
    Aug 10, 2012 - 12:55PM

    @the Skunk:
    very well said!


  • Imran
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:38PM

    Great work PAWS! This argument of ‘people first’ is fallacious, and an all too common, meaningless spasm of moronic criticism from the guilty and the lazy. What I would like to see in Pakistan is some legislation concerning ‘beasts of burden’ and the duty of care people have towards working animals like donkeys and horses used to transport heavy loads day in day out. Whilst I support every effort to look after the stray domestic animals (cats and dogs) who were bred by us and are our wards, I believe that their lives are still better than these unfortunate creatures born into lives of abject misery, worked until they drop dead.


  • Laila Khory
    Aug 17, 2012 - 8:55PM

    I am overwhelmed with positivity to hear about this organisation. Having grown up in the UK, it is something I have dreamt of setting up in Pakinstan since the 90s when I was a student in Karachi. There certainly is a requirement for this and ideally needs to be coupled with education to shift the attitudes towards animal welfare. I support this venture wholeheartedly and look forward to hearing more about it.


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