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October 17, 2019

SHC voices concern over failure of DMCs to control population of stray dogs in Karachi


October 17, 2019

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the failure of the district municipal corporations (DMCs) to control stray dogs in Karachi, asking how they would build roads and clean the city if they could not even deal with the menace of stray dogs.

Hearing a petition seeking control of the population of stray dogs and the availability of free anti-rabies vaccine, a division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar took exception to the response of the DMCs and inquired the DMCs’ counsel why the issue had not been resolved by the local government authorities.

It observed that dog-bite incidents were increasing, but no remedial action had been taken in the city by the authorities concerned. It asked which department was responsible for controlling the stray dogs.

The counsel submitted that there was some financial crunch, and that was why they were DMCs were unable to perform their duties. They said old vehicles for taking away stray dogs were in possession of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which had not delivered them to the respective DMCs for performing their duties.

The counsel for the KMC informed the court that the old vehicles were not in a running condition, and no useful purpose could be served by those vehicles; besides, the KMC was also facing a shortage of funds.

The court took exception to the failure of the additional secretary local government to appear and issued a show- cause notice for his appearance despite court orders. It issued notices to the Karachi commissioner and all municipals commissioners of the Karachi districts, summoning them to appear in person and explain if any efforts were being taken to control the stray dogs in the city.

The additional secretary for health filed a statement mentioning that as many as 17,837 anti-rabies vaccines were available at government hospitals of the province, including Karachi. The court inquired the health secretary as to why additional anti-rabies vaccines were not brought from the National Institute of Health.

It directed the Karachi commissioner and the DMCs’ commissioners to appear in person without any fail on October 22 and submit their replies mentioning steps being taken to control the stray dogs and dog-bite incidents.

The National Institute of Health’s biological production division head had informed the court on a previous hearing that the NIH was trying to enhance the production capacity of the rabies vaccine and place an order to produce further 1,00,000 doses by utilising its own resources.

The NIH’s biological production division chief, Ghazala Parveen, submitted that during the current year the NIH had produced 2,00,000 rabies vaccines and supplied them to all provinces throughout the country according to their demands. The NIH officer submitted that keeping in view the current crisis in Sindh, the NIH had supplied 2,500 doses to the Sindh government to cope with the emergency situation and to overcome the shortage of rabies vaccine without even receiving any payment whatsoever on the request of the provincial secretary health.

The petitioner, advocate M Tariq Mansoor, submitted that provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho had given a statement before the provincial assembly that more than 92,000 dog-bite cases had been reported from across Sindh this year by June 30, and there was a shortage of anti-rabies vaccines due to the ongoing tension with neighbouring India and closure of a Chinese company’s operation.

He submitted that dog-bite incidents had been increasing day by day due to the failure of the provincial and local administrations to cope with the situation, as stray dogs either had not been taken off the streets and anti-rabies vaccines were not available at the government-run hospitals.

The court was requested to direct the provincial and local governments to take necessary steps for vaccination, detention and control of the population of stray dogs as per the World Health Organisation guidelines and ensure a supply of anti-rabies vaccines at the government-run hospitals.

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