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Vaccinated, sterilised dogs found poisoned to death in Karachi's Clifton

Vaccinated, sterilised dogs found poisoned to death in Karachi's Clifton

KARACHI: A number of stray dogs, which had been vaccinated and tagged under the Rabies Free Pakistan project, were recently found poisoned in a ground in Clifton’s Block 7, officials associated with the project told Dawn.

The project is run by the Indus Hospital (IH).

Expressing shock at the incident, Mohammad Aftab Gohar, the manager of the rabies prevention centre at the IH, said that such inhumane acts would nullify the efforts being taken to tackle the issue of rabies and stray dog population in a humane and scientific manner.

“It’s a major blow to our efforts. We are unable to understand why any department would resort to dogs’ culling given the fact that all government departments concerned are on board on this project. The government is also in the process of finalising a vaccination and sterilisation project for stray dogs,” he said.

To a question, he said four dogs out of eight spotted dead were vaccinated, sterilised and tagged. The team was still inquiring about the department involved in dogs’ culling.

Over 20,000 dogs have been vaccinated under an anti-rabies project in Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi, parts of district South

“In the meantime, our team has taken up the matter with the deputy commissioner South today (Friday) in a meeting. He has assured us that this wouldn’t happen again,” he added.

Mr Gohar emphasised that such brutal and ineffective methods to tackle the issue of rabies and stray dogs must end.

So far, according to him, more than 20,000 dogs have been vaccinated and over 3,000 neutered/spayed under the project in Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi and parts of district South.

Sharing details of the incident, Rahil Barkat, the field coordinator of the project team operating in Clifton, said the team spotted eight to nine dogs dead in a ground near a drain when they reached the place to release some other vaccinated dogs on Wednesday.

“These dogs had been released just a day earlier after getting vaccinated and sterilised by our team. Three had collars while two were tagged on the ears. The rest were neither vaccinated nor sterilised,” he said, adding that the team released dogs after treatment at the same place from where they were caught.

According to him, the team has been hearing about stray dogs’ culling being carried out by the district municipal corporations (DMCs) in different parts of the city but had no evidence to report against these cases. “Now, we have evidence. This is extremely unfortunate.”

No local government official was available for comments.

It is important to mention here that culling has often been carried out by various government departments and private agencies as a method to control the population of stray dogs.

Experts, however, believe that the method is ineffective besides being cruel. They emphasise the need to implement a one-health approach, which has shown positive outcomes in other countries.

The strategy involves management of stray dog population through vaccination and sterilisation.

The method, the experts say, would gradually reduce stray dog population and over time build immunity in the dog population against rabies — a viral disease which has become a major health problem in Sindh, which frequently faces shortages of life-saving anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin.

Dogs are responsible for transmission of rabies virus to humans in 99 per cent cases. The disease is fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms.

In addition, the experts believe that it’s high time the government put in place a proper mechanism for solid waste disposal as poor civic conditions help breed animal populations and disease-causing organisms.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2020

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