The housing society leaders say they had no hand in the incident, committee formed to prevent further killings
Despite the 2014 High Court order banning dog culling, and the approval of an animal welfare law with penalties for cruelty, harming and killing of animals continue across the nation. In the latest incident, several dogs were culled in broad daylight on Tuesday at the Mirpur Defence Officers’ Housing Society (DOHS) in Dhaka.
Animal rights groups have pointed fingers at the DOHS authorities, but the authorities said they were unaware of the incident.
Rubaiya Ahmad, founder of animal welfare foundation, Obhoyaronno, said the incident was reported to them on Tuesday, soon after the dogs were killed.
“A number of dogs were culled here in Mirpur DOHS, despite this being a criminal act,” she said, terming the incident inhumane and ineffective.
“Dog culling is prohibited across the country, but it exists in DOHS neighbourhoods in the city,” she alleged. Being under the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board, the areas remain out of the purview of the ban, she said.
Jasmine Akhter, a resident of the area, said she used to take care of 23 stray dogs including one named Poker, that was poisoned to death around 10am Tuesday.
“I did not witness it, but a close friend informed me that Poker was left to die,” she said.
She also said Poker was diagnosed with cancer, for which it was receiving chemotherapy for the last four months.
“I was working towards its treatment, but they killed it,” said a heartbroken Jasmine, accusing the DOHS authorities of the culling.
Another Mirpur DOHS resident, Lubna Noman, said she, too, suffered a similar experience.
“My youngest child used to play regularly with a stray dog here,” she said. The dog had been living in the area for six years, and Lubna would feed it often.
Even on Tuesday, the corpses of two dogs - both believed to have died due to poisoning - were found in the area, and the DOHS authorities were informed of the matter, according to her.
“But they claimed to be completely unaware of the development; let alone their involvement,” said Lubna.
Rakibul Haq Emil, founder of People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation, said they came to know of the incident through social media.
“Such killings are taking place at a regular interval; that needs to stop,” he suggested.
When asked, Emil said they do not have any data on how many dogs were killed, especially in the city.
What Mirpur DOHS authorities say
Mirpur DOHS Parishad Secretary Lt Col (retd) U Kan Thein said they did not order the culling of dogs.
But he said the stray dogs are “really disturbing”and their infiltration needs to be stopped. He said stray dogs make a lot of noise, especially at night, scare pedestrians and even bite people.
Lt Col (retd) AKM Nazimul Islam, a member of the council, said they were completely in the dark about the matter.
The retired officer said since DOHS is a “special housing area,” outsiders cannot impose any decisions there. When his attention was drawn to the High Court order, Nazimul said the society’s decision takes precedent over any court order.
Amidst the allegation of dogs being killed in the area, animal rights activists and locals Friday morning sat with the Mirpur DOHS authorities to discuss on how to bring an end to the brutal act.
At the meeting, they formed a committee with Lt Gen (retd) Md Mainul Islam as its chief advisor.
An Animal Welfare Act 2019 was drafted, with imprisonment of a maximum two years or a Tk50,000 fine or both for killing animals. It also dictates that stray animals, which are not owned by any individual, must be treated with compassion.
On May 10, 2018, a Dhaka court sentenced a man to six months’ jail for burying two dogs and 14 puppies alive in Rampura in October 2017, in the second ever judgment in a case filed for cruelty against animals.
The High Court on December 14, 2014 issued an order to stop animal-fighting competitions in Sunamganj and asked the government to explain why such competitions would not be banned in the country.
Nadia Chowdhury, who filed the petition, termed such competitions cruel, arguing that these certainly violate Sections 7 and 11 of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1920 as well as Sections 268 and 289 of the Penal Code 1860.