LAHORE: World Animal Day will be observed on Monday with a special emphasis in the Punjab on animals affected by the floods.
“As the World Animal Day (WAD) ambassador in Pakistan, I have dedicated the day this year to the animals affected by the floods,” Dr Waseem Shaukat told The Express Tribune. He said that there was a dire need to make people aware of the effect the floods have had on animal population. “We need to initiate relief activities for these animals,” he said. He urged the government to provide support to the activities dedicated to providing relief to the displaced animals and to rebuild the damaged veterinary infrastructure.
Vets Care Organisation (VCO) Pakistan, an animal rights NGO, will also mark the day with work in flood-affected areas.
Dr Muzaffar Hussain, a VCO spokesperson, said that the floods had affected millions of animals. The purpose of dedicating the day to these animals, he said, was to highlight the fact that these were exposed to a greater risk of disease.
He said that the VCO will organise veterinary treatment camps in flood-affected regions of Muzaffargarh district. Animals will be examined and provided with medicines at these camps free-of-charge, he added.
He said that 120 tons of concentrate feed and 160 tons of total mixed ration (TMR) have so far been distributed in Layyah and Muzaffargarh districts as part of the Emergency Feeding Programme for flood-affected animals. The programme is a joint initiative of the VCO, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Four Paws International.
The WAD ambassador said that there was an urgent need to implement animal welfare laws in Pakistan. He said that there was no concept of animal rights in the country. “The government should not only formulate laws against cruel practices and but also devise a strategy to enforce these laws,” he said.
The Lahore Zoo will celebrate the day next week. Zahid Iqbal Bhatti, the Lahore Zoo deputy director, said that the Zoo management will organise tours for school children to educate them about animal rights. The event, he said, could not be celebrated this Monday because of a delay in the delivery of paper bags.
He said the bags would be distributed among zoo visitors in order to persuade them to stop using polythene bags. “We need to make people aware of the hazardous impact polythene bags can have on animals’ health,” he said. He added that several animals have died in the zoo as a result of swallowing polythene bags thrown away by the visitors.
Bhatti said that most people in Pakistan were not aware of animal rights. He said that even some of those who kept pets were not properly aware of their needs.
He said that the Wildlife Act of 1974 banned catching sparrows and other birds, referring to the people who earned their livelihood by catching these birds and then setting them free at a nominal charge.
He said that animals subject to worst treatment included donkeys, horses and dogs. People mostly mistreat them without knowing that they were violating their rights, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2010.