Sunday, February 22, 2015

Furore in Karachi neighbourhood over killing of stray dogs

The disturbing video above was uploaded on Facebook by Karachi resident Hira Tareen ( . This practice of getting rid of Karachi's stray dogs (estimates put the city's population of such animals, in the absence of a proper survey, at around 50,000) by killing them has been going on for years but thanks to the growing use of social media in Pakistan, its barbarity has come under increasing scrutiny of late.

In the past, the Karachi Metropolitan Corportationn (KMC) in charge of this issue would carry out week-long campaigns every year where they would place food laced with poison for stray dogs (the packets used to be called 'gulab jamuns', named after a local sweet delicacy). While inhumane, this was done after publicizing the campaign through newspaper notices and with warnings to residents to keep their pet dogs indoors.

However, as the city's governance has taken a severe battering in recent years - thanks largely to neglect by successive governments - the method of eliminating stray dogs has basically fallen apart as well. To begin with, there is no campaign generally speaking and when public complaints against stray dogs rise, municipal authorities -- such as the Clifton Cantonment Board in the case of this video -- adopt very ad hoc, and cruel, measures.

As this video shows, untrained teams of dog killers are driving around the densely populated city of Karachi -- and shooting these animals in the middle of the day. And after doing that, the animal is left to die a slow death. In the case of Ms Tareen's video, the poor animal - he managed to survive - lay where he was shot, injured for several hours, before being taken to an animal welfare clinic.

Residents of the city who have seen this disturbing video are right to ask that cannot the city's municipal authorities think of more humane ways to rid the city of this problem. Cannot the stray dog population be neutered so that their numbers go down over time? A large Indian city recently adopted a proposal to train some of its stray dogs and use them for security purposes.

Surely, Karachi, too, could try a less barbaric approach.

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