A dog is dog, so why do we discriminate by culling the strays?
Another week, another culling of stray dogs. And here I am, finally at a loss for words…
After spending three years constantly posting ideas, plans and a humane way forward to deal with the stray dog culling operation in Karachi by the local government, I am finally at a loss for words. Presenting them with viable plans used by other countries, speaking out about it, protesting against it and even adopting strays, training them and showing people the potential of these dogs. Nothing works.
We as a people have become so desensitised that we are unable to feel even for a voiceless, helpless creature. Whenever we find something a nuisance, our only way forward is to eliminate it. And that is the equivalent of burying our heads in the sand. Which I believe should be classified as a national sport.
When we’re not doing anything about it, we are fighting the people who are trying.
Just a few weeks ago, Karachi’s stray dogs were killed mercilessly by Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC). There was a protest, an event on Facebook that promised hundreds of supporters but only reeled in around 50. Welfare groups and civilians met with the mayor to put a stop to the culling and instead employ humane alternatives (catch, neuter/spay, vaccinate and release). On the event page, I saw something interesting; people who wouldn’t lift a finger to help a fellow human being were insulting those who were fighting to save these dogs, with fervour.
The post above, which appeared on the Facebook group, Halaat Updates, has now been removed.
Why do we equate what happens to humans to what happens to animals? Where is the comparison? How does that comparison even make sense? Why is it so that because there are injustices towards humans (which are also shameful) that one should use that to justify killing/abusing/hurting animals? Does culling dogs magically change another human being’s life for the better? To me it seems like displaced anger that really helps no one. Not the animals and definitely not the humans.
My personal belief is that humanity and empathy starts with animals and then translates towards humans. If one is unable to feel for the voiceless, understand their plight, hurt for the puppies that lose their mothers… how do we expect to instil empathy on a larger scale?
“In ACF’s experience of rescuing over 1,200 pye-dogs (stray dogs) in Karachi over the past 3.5 years, we have NOT come across a SINGLE case of rabies. The only aggressive dogs we have met are those that people have abused and harmed. And with a little bit of love, you will see them change and shine”. (Taken from the ACF Animal Rescue page)
Catch, neuter/spay, vaccinate and release. These words ring through my head on a daily basis. I feel like screaming them from the top of buildings. Dogs are a vital part of our ecosystem. Dogs control rats. If dogs are culled, the rat population increases and rats carry far more dangerous diseases that humans are susceptible to. Every creature on this planet has a purpose. Nothing is without reason even if that reason is beyond our understanding.
Every time there is a dog culling operation, there is uproar online with comments condemning the act. It stops there. When push comes to shove, no one really does anything and the common suggestion is “send them to ACF”, “please do something”. When we try to appeal to the authorities involved, we are either met with dismissive comments or shameless pacifying, and every few weeks they start again.
I spend a lot of time at the ACF Animal Shelter and I know for a fact that it is not humanly possible to put all the stray dogs of Karachi within four walls. It is unrealistic to think they should be removed altogether. People forget the fact that healthy dogs confined to a shelter for the rest of their lives is:
- A massive burden on the shelter, financially and space wise
- Renders them unable to take in actual emergency cases (limbless, lifeless, injured animals)
- Renders those healthy strays unable to ever be released again because they become dependent
- Assuming every healthy dog’s lifespan is around 10 years, the shelter gets fuller by the day and unless someone is willing to donate hundreds of acres, it is unrealistic.
What people fail to realise is that the animal kingdom has a system. When you remove X number of dogs from a certain area, new ones will always come and take over that space and breed more to fill that void. To actually eliminate that issue and not the dogs, a spay neuter and vaccinate campaign per area should be enforced. This should be part of our structure; coexisting is part of life. It’s like culling the crows because we don’t like them. Or culling bees because we find them dangerous.
Here are ACF’s suggestions on how every individual can help:
- Make a network of like-minded people who actively want to help
- Befriend the dog/dogs in your area or a particular area
- Feed them every day. Put a collar on them. Adopt them as your pet
- Make sure your neighbours know these are your pets. You can only educate through action
- If they know that, perhaps they will not call the authorities to kill
- You can even train dog/dogs to become guard dogs for your community
- Show neighbours the benefits of having dogs
- When comfortable, put dog/dogs in car and take it to a vet to be spayed/neutered
- Raise money for that through your network
- Once healed, get them an anti-rabies shot and release
- Continue taking care of your adopted pets
We hope you will do your part.
As a freelance animal rescuer, I can testify to the guidance above. I have been there, done that and it is incredibly fulfilling. To gain the trust and love of a dog is a feeling like no other. In fact, all four of my strays have been easier to train than my purebreds, they are more grateful, loving, and vigilant, and the best part is that because they are used to our weather and terrain, they almost never get sick or lost. They make absolutely wonderful companions and guards and I always encourage everyone to at least take in one stray pup and raise him/her with their own dogs. The benefit of that act is timeless.
Your purebred dog gets a friend, and a dog that will protect him when need be, and you give the stray a chance at life, love and happiness.
A dog is dog. So why do we discriminate?
These strays are so highly trainable that they can be trained to be guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, disaster response dogs and even police dogs. Why not give them a chance?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.