Animal rights activists say perpetrators enjoy impunity due to loopholes in law
A group of young people was wandering through the streets and looking for dogs to vaccinate them. Whenever any dog was found, they vaccinated them.
These youths are working as volunteers of an animal welfare group, Eco-Savers Foundation (ESAF), to save stray animals.
They began their work in Dhaka, but are now working in different districts across the country.
Recently they vaccinated 350 dogs in Barisal district.
Environment and wildlife journalist and ESAB Chairman Aminul Islam Mithu said this is their second mission out of Dhaka. Earlier they worked in Chittagong on a small scale.
He said they organize medical, vaccination, and public awareness campaigns to ensure improved health for dogs and cats. They also distribute leaflets among people to dispel the fear of dogs and inform them what to do in case of an animal bite.
Wahida Khan, director of the organization, said: “There is little effort to protect animals in our country. Recently, atrocities against animals have increased a lot. Street dogs are becoming victims as they are prone to contracting rabies. So, we are working to vaccinate dogs and build awareness among people across the country.”
Some people work for animals personally, nurture them, and provide them with treatment.
Naimul Haque Hridoy, who works as a security guard at a house of Lalmatia, feeds some street dogs and provides medical care to injured animals.
Several major incidents of cruelty on animals have taken place
In September 2016, a video of a man beating a sleeping dog to death went viral.
In January 2017, a man named Mamun-ur-Rashid directed a teenager to kill a puppy in a cruel manner in Savar. The puppy was tortured till death. The man filmed the act and uploaded it on his Facebook page and Youtube channel.
On May 1, 2017, a panicked mob beat to death a fishing cat, locally known as “mechho bagh”, in Kushtia.
On October 25, 2017, a man buried two dogs and 14 puppies alive in Rampura, Dhaka.
So far, only two cases have seen a final verdict.
On May 11, 2017 a Dhaka court delivered its first ever verdict under the Cruelty to Animals Act. Chief Judicial Magistrate Jesmin Ara Begum fined Mamun from Savar Tk300 for the brutal act.
On May 10, 2018, a Dhaka court sentenced a man to six months in jail or Tk200 as fine for burying the dogs and puppies in Rampura.
In July 2015, Bangladesh made the first arrest in an animal cruelty case. Police arrested three people for beating a dog on the street in Rampura.
The case filed by Obhoyaronno, an animal welfare group, is now under trial.
Veterinary clinics and hospitals
There are not enough clinics or hospitals in the country for animals. Although some veterinary doctors have their personal chambers, the number of clinics is very low.
Animal welfare groups such as People for Animal Welfare-PAWFoundation, Care for Paws, and Obhoyaronno run rescue centres and clinics on their own.
Visiting the veterinary clinic of PAW Foundation, this correspondent met college student Farial Islam who came here to treat her two-month old pet cat.
She found the little cat from the street and took it to her house. But the little cat was suffering from a cold for a few days. So Farial brought it to the clinic.
“I love animals. They are helpless creatures. It is our duty to save them. I found the cat on the street and brought it home. After treatment it is feeling much better,” Farial said.
Over the last three years PAW rescued over 60 injured animals from different areas and 120-130 animals are treated at either PAW Life Care Centre in Dhaka’s Lalmatia, or at Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre located at Amin Bazar in Dhaka, said the organization’s Founder and Chairman Rakibul Haq Emil.
There is no survey on the number of street animals in the city or across the country. The statistics about animals are not systematically collected, so the number of violent incidents against them also remains unknown.
Criminals started off with animal cruelty
According to PAW Foundation, a large number of violent criminals began their career with animal cruelty.
One study showed that 75% of prison inmates charged with violent crimes had an early record of animal cruelty and arson.
The same correlation of violent individuals and animal cruelty is seen around the world, literally in every country.
Emil said there are many loopholes in the law, which is why perpetrators are able to escape punishment. He said the law should be strong and animal friendly.
Though the law stipulates that the animal cannot be killed there is a gap in the law, so people still enjoy impunity after killing animals.
After giving vaccines to 70% of dogs in an area, the city corporation killed dogs in that area at someone’s request, Emil said.
According to the Dhaka South City Corporation, 2,300 dogs were sterilized in 2017-18 (May 2018), and 4,300 unclaimed dogs were vaccinated.