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September 20, 2019

Sindh govt finally decides to cull stray dogs as rabies deaths rise


September 20, 2019

Following the tragic death of a 10-year-old boy who died in the lap of her mother due to full-blown rabies in the Larkana district, the Sindh government has finally ordered the mayors, municipal commissioners and other officials to start immediate and effective campaigns for the culling of stray dogs in the province.

As many as 13 people, including men, women and mostly children, have lost their lives in Sindh due to rabies encephalitis, a deadly infectious diseases caused by a rabid dogs, this year, while as many as 135,000 people, majority of whom were women and children, have been attacked and bitten by stray dogs in Sindh, including Karachi.

The Sindh government came under pressure after a video clip of the tragic death of the child, Mir Hasan Abro, went viral on the social media and both print and electronic media bitterly criticised the failure of the provincial government to control the population of stray dogs and arrange anti- rabies vaccine (ARV) for those who are bitten by stray dogs.

According to a notification issued by the Sindh Local Government Department addressed to the mayors and municipal commissioners, chairmen of the district municipal corporations and others, incidents of dog-bites are on the rise in the province and in this regard local bodies authorities had been directed to launch “effective and well-coordinated campaign” in their areas on a top priority basis.

An official of the health department said they were urging the authorities to launch campaigns for the elimination of stray dogs, but owing to pressure from animal rights campaigners, the authorities had left the people especially children at the mercy of stray dogs.

Sindh Director General Health Dr Masood Solangi expressed his satisfaction over the decision on culling stray dogs in the province, saying he had been writing letters to all the commissioners for the last several months to start culling stray dogs, as Pakistan being a poor country could not afford to import the anti-rabies vaccine and vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people who became victim to stray dogs every year in the province.

“ARV is imported from India and, due to our troubled relationship with the neighbouring state, the import of vaccine often becomes an issue for the authorities. We need to lower the population of stray dogs in our cities and rural areas so that dog-bite incidents could be reduced and those who become victim could be vaccinated.”

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), also hailed the decision of culling stray dogs, saying it was the only solution keeping in view the growing population of canines, which were attacking everybody, as nobody was tackling this menace.

She said as many 7,741 people with dog-bite wounds have so far been treated at the dog-bite centre of the JPMC till September 18, 2019, adding that last year around 7,642 people had been brought to the hospital, but this year the number of victims could cross 10,000. “We need to eliminate stray dogs to protect our children and population and there is no other solution to this menace. Some people say we need to neuter stray dogs, but this is not happening and nobody has the resources to do that. Controlling the dogs’ population is the only solution,” said Dr Seemin Jamali.

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