More dogs than people are seen on Karachi’s roads these days as the country continues to be under a lock down to control the spread of the coronavirus. The strays, however, may not be safe for long as the government has passed orders to cull them yet again.
The order was issued on April 1. It instructed the city government to “speed up” culling of dogs along with fumigation spray and garbage collection.
Many concerned residents have come together to raise their voice against animal cruelty. A group of students, journalists, professionals, lawyers and even overseas Pakistanis have signed a letter written against the ambiguous policies of the local and federal governments concerning stray dogs.
The letter, widely shared on social media, says the brutal killing of dogs is not just done by the government but also other residents.
“As soon as the order was passed, I personally reached out to the government and presented a proposal on how we could avoid culling by vaccinations,” said Ayesha Chundrigar, the owner of a charity organisation for animal welfare.
It is dog killing and not culling, she remarked. “Culling by definition is essentially the killing of selective animals to manage the wildlife population,” the social worker told SAMAA Digital. “But, what happens in Pakistan is not even culling, it’s purely killing.”
The only way it’s done here is through rat poison where within a time span of eight hours the dog’s organs shut down one after the other and it dies,” Chundrigar said. The alternative is to shoot them and as the country lacks professional shooters, dogs are usually shot all across their bodies. Either way, death never comes easily for these animals.
‘Culling isn’t effective’
In Pakistan, especially in big cities such as Karachi and Lahore, killing dogs is considered the only solution to ‘control’ the growing population of the strays.
Chundrigar debunked this belief. “Killing dogs only results in an increase in their population,” she said. According to research, when dogs see a decline in their species it makes them reproduce more. It’s simply the concept of the survival of the fittest, she added.
“According to the World Health Organisation, there is absolutely no evidence that removal of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities or the spread of rabies,” says the letter signed by social activists and other professionals.
The letter also challenged the theories that dogs could be responsible for spreading the coronavirus. “Research has proven that dogs and cats have no relation with the spread of the virus,” it reads.
Chundrigar’s stance on this disinformation was similar. “WHO recently found that animals can’t transmit COVID-19 into humans,” she said. “It has only recently been found that humans can infect cats but that too can’t happen vice versa,” Chundrigar clarified.
Blessing in disguise
Chundrigar emphasised that cats and dogs are a blessing in disguise during the coronavirus lockdown. “You need them more than anything during this time to keep you company,” she said.
There’s nothing better than keeping a pet to help with anxiety, she added.
Chundrigar also advised people to help stray animals in whatever way they can. “These animals used to get their food from different cafes and restaurants and they have now been closed,” she said.
“You can just leave out fresh water for them and some leftover food,” she advised. “You can save hundreds of lives this way without even making that much of an effort.”