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May 14, 2020

Comments sought from Centre, Sindh on plea against stray dog culling

Karachi

May 14, 2020

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the federal and provincial governments, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and others on a petition seeking the enactment of new laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals as well as animal birth control rules and direction to the authorities to stop the culling of stray dogs.

An NGO working for animal welfare has filed a petition in the SHC, saying that the federal and provincial government authorities were brutally culling stray dogs in different parts of the city despite the local government having laws for providing protection against stray animals, animal trespass and establishing cattle pounds.

The petitioner’s counsel said that despite compulsory function, the KMC to date has not established cattle pounds to impound stray animals but commenced inhumane culling of stray dogs throughout the city.

He said that there has been not even an iota of evidence that the mass culling of animals is a solution to curb rabies or the canine population. The counsel said that many countries have already legislated to curb stray dog population in a humane manner, adding that the federal and provincial governments are liable to enact similar legislations with the enactment of a new prevention of cruelty to animals act.

He also cited the animals birth control rules of 2001 that is liable to be adopted, enacted and implemented in Pakistan in accordance with the recommendations and guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 provides for the compulsory and optional functions to be performed by the authorities to control stray animals, and they have to be regulated through by-laws, which have not been enacted yet.

He pointed out that innocent animals should not be penalised for the omissions of the respondents to carry out their statutory duties and obligations, saying that had the government complied with the statutory duties, there would have been no need to carry out this mass culling of stray animals.

The counsel said the acts of omission and commission done by the federal and provincial governments in respect of killing of animals in pursuance of Section 119 of the cantonment act amounts to breach of statutory duties and obligations, adding that they are illegal and against the injunctions of Islam, so Section 119 of the cantonment act is liable to be struck down.

He said the display of dead animals on the streets of Karachi and other parts of the province can cause further diseases, as leaving poison on the streets is extremely dangerous for children as well as pets.

The court was requested to declare that the government was liable to enact legislation with regard to the prevention of cruelty to animals as well as birth control rules in Pakistan as being implemented in other countries in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of the WHO.

The petitioner also sought direction to the LG authorities and the cantonment boards to stop the campaigns to cull stray dogs and the mass sterilisation of such animals to prevent any disease from spreading further.

After the preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar issued notices to the federal and provincial government law officers, the KMC, the cantonment boards and others, calling for them to file their comments on the petition.

The court also directed to fix the matter with the petition’s call for controlling the population of stray dogs and ensuring the availability of free rabies vaccines.

The LG authorities had informed the court in March that 53,726 stray dogs had been killed and dumped in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad divisions of the province since November 2019.