Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) to submit a report within two weeks on the measures they have taken to provide shelter for stray dogs.

A petition was filed in the court seeking a halt to the practice by the two civic agencies of poisoning or shooting stray dogs, since there is a lack of facilities that provide food or shelter for such animals in the city.

Faryal Nawaz, co-founder of the Help Welfare Organization (HWO), an Islamabad-based community group that provides animal rescue services to stray and wild animals in the twin cities and surrounding region, filed the petition.

Lawyers for the petitioner argued that the poisoning and shooting of healthy stray dogs by the CDA and MCI’s Sanitation Directorate was inhumane and in violation of the Constitution, laws and Islamic principles.

Every year, workers of the Sanitation Directorate use shotguns or poison to kill hundreds of stray dogs in residential areas of Islamabad, saying they are a nuisance and pose health risks to humans.

The petition includes experts’ reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in support of its argument that killing of dogs does do not reduce threat of rabies or other diseases but on the contrary can be counterproductive and increase health risks.

Citing the CDA, MCI and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) as respondents the petitioner argued that they had never attempted to implement more effective and humane methods to control stray dog populations or the spread of canine diseases, such as mass vaccination and neutering.

According to the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1890, killing of any animal unnecessary is a crime and an act of cruelty however Section 17 of the law makes it inapplicable to public officials.

The petitioner however claims that this indemnity to public officials is also in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The petition points to Article 2 of the Constitution, which declares Islam as the state religion, and cited several passages from the Quran and Prophetic traditions which emphasised the welfare of animals.

In response to the writ petition, Justice Amer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court ordered the CDA, MCI, IWMB, as well as the Attorney General of Pakistan to provide their responses to HWO’s claims within fifteen days.