Despite the presence of a fully-fledged rabies control program in the province, district municipal authorities in Karachi are continuing the cruel and outdated practice of poisoning free-roaming dogs, as reported on Wednesday. The most recent anti-stray dog campaign was carried out by the District Municipal Corporation (DMC) East, where numerous dogs were poisoned to death in several areas, including Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Juma Goth, and Khudadad Colony.

Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, head of the infectious diseases department at The Indus Hospital, expressed her concerns and emphasized the need for the government to scale up the Rabies Free Karachi project, which was initiated a few years ago. The project, implemented in collaboration with partners, ended last year, and Dr. Salahuddin highlighted the importance of the government taking ownership of the project and implementing it city-wide. The project, which involved mass dog vaccination and controlling the population through birth control measures, vaccinated 30,000 dogs and performed over 10,000 spay and neuter surgeries. Dr. Salahuddin stressed that killing stray dogs is both cruel and ineffective, as studies have shown.

Dr. Abdul Ghafooor Shoro of the Pakistan Medical Association echoed similar concerns and emphasized the state's responsibility to find a humane and effective method to control the dog population. The increasing canine population, coupled with the absence of rabies vaccines at tertiary care hospitals, poses a grave risk to public health.

Junaid Iqbal Khan, heading the Rabies Control Programme Sindh, acknowledged the administrative challenges faced by the program and expressed hope for improved performance with increased funding in the upcoming budget. Currently, three centers are operating in Karachi to address public complaints, and efforts are being made to capture, spay, neuter, vaccinate against rabies, and release stray dogs. Mr. Khan mentioned plans to set up 20 centers across Sindh, including one in each district of Karachi, and highlighted the need to adopt humane methods of dog population control.

Although culling is not officially banned, government instructions have been issued several times to municipal authorities to stop dog culling and adopt humane methods. Junaid Iqbal Khan emphasized that killing dogs goes against cultural and religious values, and awareness sessions are being conducted in schools to educate children about proper behavior around dogs and what to do in case of a dog bite.

The continued poisoning of stray dogs by district municipal authorities in Karachi highlights the need for a more humane and effective approach to control the dog population and address public health concerns. The implementation of the Rabies Free Karachi project and the adoption of community engagement and staff training are crucial steps toward achieving this goal.

Written By Web Desk

The Webdesk of Times of Karachi is known for its captivating stories that cover a range of topics, including politics, society, culture, and entertainment.