The city corporation said it shifted the dogs to the Matuail landfill in line with Mayor Fazle Noor Tapash’s instructions to this end
Despite growing criticism from animal lovers and rights activists, several stray dogs have been relocated from the TSC area of Dhaka University (DU) and Dhanmondi after some employees of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) injected them with tranquilizers.
The city corporation said it shifted the dogs to the Matuail landfill in line with Mayor Fazle Noor Tapash’s instructions to this end.
However, Dhaka Tribune’s investigation found no new dogs at the landfill.
AHM Abdullah Harun, executive engineer of DSCC, also the in-charge of the landfill, said he received no such direction to shift stray dogs.
“In the past few days, I did not see any new dogs being released in the landfill,” he said, doubting that the dogs picked up from TSC and Dhanmondi were perhaps taken somewhere else.
Claiming to be a witness to the drive against stray dogs, tea seller Md Kalam said there were 20 dogs roaming frequently at the TSC, but their number dropped to as low as three in the past few days.
“We are noticing a bit more garbage scattered here and there for the past two days as the dogs were picked up. The dogs automatically clean this environment eating garbage,” he said.
“Though I am not a literate person, as far as I know there will be a long term impact to be imposed in this environment due to lack of those animals,” SSC promoted Kalam added.
Md Yunus, a street vendor, said he saw some DSCC employees inject sedatives to some dogs and put them into a vehicle on Monday afternoon.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic closure some students of DU fed the dogs and it is still going on. Three big packets full of food were sufficient for the dogs across Dhaka University campus. Here you can see, they could only feed a packet of food for today and two are kept near my shop.”
According to Yunus, the students went to find the dogs which were picked up after finishing today’s feeding.
Tauhid Tanjim, a postgraduate student at the university’s computer science and engineering department, said: “At least five dogs were picked after they were injected around 11am on Monday.
“People who were present during the drive tried to save the dogs, but the DSCC employees did not pay attention to them. We are trying to bring the dogs back on our own, and also demanding that no harm be caused to them,” Tanjim added.
When contacted on Tuesday evening, DSCC Ward-21 Councillor Asaduzzaman Asad said he was unaware of the matter as nobody had notified him about the incident.
However, DSCC Zone-1 Regional Executive Officer Md Mizanur Rahman said the dogs may have been relocated.
“Although the area (DU campus) is under my jurisdiction, the veterinary section under the DSCC’s health department deals with such issues. As far as I know, no dogs are culled. As per previous plan, the dogs may have been relocated to the Matuail landfill,” he further said.
Rakibul Haq Emil, founder of People for Animal Welfare (PAW) foundation expressed grave concern over injecting as well as the relocation process.
He said: “When authorities want to inject a proper dose over a dog, it needs to be done in the presence of a veterinary doctor there in DU campus. But DSCC did it through the cleaning staff which was very much risky.
“If DSCC prioritizes the wishes of people who have limited knowledge, it will be an inhuman decision. Authorities are treating them as garbage,” Emil added.
DSCC Veterinary Officer Dr SM Shafiqul Islam told the journalists: “Mayor repeatedly said to reduce the number of stray dogs as these are creating problems in the areas and people made objections against them. But it is not necessary. They can be made infertile to reduce the growth.
DSCC officials claimed that they removed some dogs from Ramna Park and Dhanmondi Lake area, and released them in the Matuail landfill.
Dhaka Tribune repeatedly phoned Taposh for a comment but he said to contact the PRO.
Public Relation Officer Md Abu Naser told this correspondent that a total of 100 dogs would be relocated from the DSCC area in five days. Three days have already passed.
When asked about which order the DSCC officials follow to remove the dogs from these areas, he said: “I just want to tell you; yes we are relocating the stray dogs.”
As per the Section 7 of the Animal Welfare Act, 2019 disallows the killing or removal of stray animals unless they are proven to be causing harm.
Dog culling is prohibited across the country as per a 2013 High Court order.
Abu Naser said: “Animal Welfare Act, 2019 covers all government authority except for the city corporation as this authority is running as per Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009.”
“The clauses 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, and 15.10 of the 3rd Tafsil, clause 51 of the 5th Tafsil and clause 18 of the 7th Tafsil in City Corporation act, the city corporation can relocate the stray dogs and animals or even cull them. But we are not going to kill these innocent animals," he added.
Where have the dogs gone?
When this correspondent visited the Matuail landfill on Wednesday afternoon he only found some sick dogs roaming there, which meant those dogs were there for a long time.
Locals, nearby people, and officials of that garbage dumping yard, wishing to remain unnamed, told this correspondent that they have not seen any DSCC vehicle in three days to unload the injected dogs which were picked. They also claimed that no new dogs joined that landfill.
When Abu Naser was asked about the current condition or the location of the dogs, he said: “I have told you that much, which I am permitted to tell officially or unofficially.”
“The dogs were meant to be released there and our officials did so. As far as I know there is no access to the locals in that garbage field, whom you are quoting,” he furthered.
Chief Executive Officer of DSCC ABM Amin Ullah Nuri told this correspondent that he could not make any comment when contacted over phone on Wednesday since he claimed he was unaware about that relocating drive. He said he could possibly tell the next day on this matter.
A media briefing over the issue will be held by several animal rights groups at 3:30pm at the National Press Club.