KARACHI: City Nazim Naimatullah Khan has been urged by a group of doctors and concerned citizens to undertake population planning of stray dogs in the city in order to reduce the cases of dog bite and contain the growing incidence of rabies, Dr Naseem Salahuddin, the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (IDSP) told Daily Times on Wednesday.
A meeting in this regard is to be held on May 30.
Dr Salahuddin, who is also a consultant with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said data was not available about the population of stray dogs in the city but the gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that as many as 50 and 70 cases of dog bites are registered daily at Civil Hospital, Karachi (CHK) and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) respectively. Dr Salahuddin said population planning of dogs had been undertaken in several countries like Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, UAE etc, with positive results and it was more acceptable than the cruel practice of killing stray dogs which had brought sharp criticism from animal rights groups.
She said the population planning of dogs could be undertaken through a simple, 20-minute operation in which the female is transformed into "neuter" while the male dog is castrated, eventually leading to a reduction in the number of stray dogs over a period of time.
According to the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), an animal rights group founded by Mahera Omer and Maheen Zia, stray dogs in Karachi number in tens of thousands, but currently the only strategy of the civic authorities to combat rabies is the sporadic inhumane killing of these dogs by either shooting with guns or strychnine poisoning.
During a meeting with city nazim on May 9, it was argued by a group of citizens that rogue dogs or suspicious-looking dogs must be eliminated immediately, but another group argued that the catch/neuter/vaccinate/release (CNR) strategy is the best long-term method. Mahera Omer of PAWS argued during the meeting that killing dogs was an ineffective approach and had never worked in Pakistan or any other country of the world. She said that according to WHO the most effective and long-term strategy was mass sterilisation and vaccination of street dogs, along with vaccination of pet dogs, improving public sanitation and creating awareness through education.