Pakistan’s first-ever ‘Stray Dogs Population Control Centre’ has started functioning in Islamabad. The centre has been set up in accordance with the directions of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and guidelines of the animal rights organisations. Image Credit: Supplied

ISLAMABAD: The federal capital is now officially a ‘dog-friendly’ city. Stray and abandoned canines no longer face a risk of being shot or put down by municipal staff of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) here.

Pakistan’s first-ever ‘Stray Dogs Population Control Centre’ has started functioning in Islamabad with a capacity of sheltering, feeding around 500 dogs.

The centre has been set up in accordance with the directions of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and guidelines of the animal rights organisations.

The IHC in 2020 barred the Capital Development Authority (CDA) from putting down the stray dogs and ordered formulation of a policy instead.

Proper care is being given to stray dogs

So, at the centre, that was recently opened, there are facilities for dogs to play, rest and to be treated.

“We were working on the plan as the court had forbidden us to kill stray and abandoned dogs. Fortunately, we found a vacant piece of land that belongs to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Livestock department,” said Shah Jahan Director General (Civic Management) CDA.

They agreed to handover the land for the purpose and "here we are with 50 such dogs which are either abandoned by their owners or they are stray dogs. Our qualified staff is taking good care of them", he said.

Chairman CDA Capt Mohammad Usman in a post on Saturday shared pictures of weeks-old puppy that was brought to the centre and was being treated by a vet.

Number of dogs growing steadily

"The number is constantly on the rise as a day earlier, we rescued a mother dog with her five puppies. They are doing well here and our vets are taking proper care of them," said Shah Jahan.

Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Captain Mohammad Usman Younis inaugurated the Stray Dogs Population Control Centre last Saturday and since then the two vehicles of the centre are busy in bringing the stray dogs to the centre from various corners of Islamabad.

A caregiver with a puppy. Image Credit: Supplied

Lab tests, fresh meat

The dog centre has a lab also for the purpose of carrying out various tests and vaccination of the canines.

About their food, a worker of the dog centre earlier said it was arranged that left-over food from the city’s restaurants would be provided to them. However, after the animal rights activists disapproved because it might contain onions and other ingredients that could prove dangerous for the dogs, the idea was dropped. Now fresh meat is arranged from the local butchers and poultry farms and they are not charging for this good cause.

Centre to address complaints of dog bites

According to Captain Usman, of late, they had been receiving complaints about stray dog bites from different parts of Islamabad, especially the rural areas.

The issue was not addressed properly due to the absence of an effective mechanism to deal with these dogs, he said. However, after this centre was established, hopefully "we shall address this issue once and for all".

stray dogii-1664466451339

The establishment of the centre is in fact the result of a prolonged struggle by animal rights activists of Islamabad.

In December 2018, a leading animal rights activist Faryal Nawaz who is also co-founder of Help Welfare Organisation (HWO), an Islamabad-based group that provides rescue services to stray and wild animals, filed a writ petition at the IHC demanding that the practice of shooting and poisoning healthy stray dogs should be banned as it was in violation of laws and Islamic principles.

According to Faryal Haq Nawaz, “dog culling or any animal abuse is prohibited by law. We should get away with such inhumane acts. Again, it’s against the law. Need your support to help find these rescued animals.”

Talking to Gulf News, Harim Qamar, a dog specialist and animal rights activist, welcomed the establishment of the centre. Here the dogs will be natured which is the right way of controlling their population, said Harim, adding there should also be a proper check and balance mechanism and the staff of the centre should be trained to keep an eye if a new dog brought to the centre is infected or not.

stray dogs-1664466434918

Proper medical care and vaccination are also advised in case a new dog is brought here, he said. Besides, a dog adoption corner should also be set up at the centre and the residents should be encouraged to choose a dog of their choice, he said.

Every year, personnel from the sanitation directorate use shotguns or poison to kill hundreds of stray dogs in the residential areas of Islamabad claiming that they were a nuisance and health risk to the citizens.

The IHC while taking up the petition directed the CDA in 2020 to neutralise stray dogs and set up a shelter and vaccination centre. Although there was a delay of almost two years, yet it is a welcome step and the animal rights activists hope stray dogs would no longer be shot down or poisoned in Islamabad.