PAW organizes two-day-long campaign to save the dogs
The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has begun illegally relocating 30,000 stray dogs from Dhaka to outside the city.
Shah Md Imdadul Haque, chief executive officer of DSCC, told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday that work on relocating the stray dogs had been going on since last week.
Section 7 of the Animal Welfare Act, 2019 disallows the killing or removal of stray animals unless they are proven to be causing harm.
So far the relocation process has been carried out over 3 days and 15 dogs have been removed from Dhaka's Nagar Bhaban area and some VIP roads.
Sources said the dogs were transferred to the Matuail landfill. However, the city corporation’s decision to relocate the stray dogs in Matuail permanently was overturned because of fears of a food crisis. As of now, DSCC has kept those 15 dogs there temporarily.
According to DSCC officials, Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh directed the transfer of all dogs for the comfort of the people in his area. Accordingly, the work commenced on an experimental basis.
The DSCC made the decision after receiving allegations of untoward incidents related to dogs, they said.
Department of Livestock Services (DLS) Veterinary Surgeon in-charge of DSCC SM Shafiqul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that the DLS had been asked to handle the transfer of stray dogs.
"I don't think it will work. Even if dogs are kept away from localities, we suspect they will return in a few days,” he said.
He said the government’s health department had vaccinated some 48,000 dogs in 2019, of which 28,000 were in the DSCC area alone. Street dogs in Dhaka were vaccinated in May last year. A second dose, scheduled for this year, has not been given yet.
On whether or not it was useful to transfer the dogs without vaccination, the official said: “We are conducting the activities by taking all precautions and looking into all the negative and positive aspects.”
The High Court passed an order forbidding the killing of stray dogs. The Cruelty to Animals Act, 1920, also prohibits killing of animals and was updated with stricter penalties into the Animal Welfare Act, 2019. But the number of free roaming dogs has increased in the capital, causing problems to Dhaka dwellers. That is why the city corporation was thinking of relocating the stray dogs, said DSCC officials.
Research conducted in 2015, titled "Free-roaming dog population estimation and status of the dog population management and rabies control program in Dhaka city, Bangladesh'', revealed that some 52 dogs live per sqkm in Dhaka.
Rabies is a common disease that spreads to people from the saliva of infected animals, including stray dogs. The number of deaths due to rabies has been declining in the last several years.
Currently, 200 people die from rabies each year in Bangladesh, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Meanwhile, the DNCC is in discussions with private organizations which work with animals and with the DGHS to decide how they can reduce the number of stray dogs as well as curb rabies.
The DNCC plans to control the number of stray dogs by sterilizing them and reduce the rate of infections by strengthening the ongoing vaccination program.
Campaign to save dogs
On the other hand, to save stray dogs on Dhaka streets, People for Animal Welfare Foundation (PAW Foundation) organized an awareness campaign protesting the initiative through murals on roadside walls.
On August 28-29, a two-day-long awareness program was conducted by 22 young artists.
The stories of the daily struggles of the dogs are told by the artists through the murals on the walls.
Renowned painters Abul Barq Alvi and Kanak Chanpa Chakma inaugurated the event by applying the first brushstrokes on the wall. Actors Jaya Ahsan, Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed and other celebrities joined the protest.
PAW Founding Chairman Raqibul Haque Emil said the DSCC could not manage proper rabies vaccination and sterilization projects but it has taken an inhumane decision to relocate 30,000 dogs from Dhaka.
“Through the pictures, we have shown the people of the city how to be humane towards these animals. We can keep them in our city with very little food. We have highlighted the related laws, punishment for animal cruelty and inhumane behavior,” he said.
Emil hopes that the unity of citizens will be able to stop this initiative taken by the city corporation.
NGO worker and Dhanmondi resident Geeta Mitra said: “I see this picture on the wall. Here is the story of animal suffering. I have rescued two street dogs and kept them in my house. That way we humans can save the dogs.”