Plan finalised to extend stray dogs neutering programme in KP

PESHAWAR   -   The Livestock and Dairy Development Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has finalised a summary for the extension of its ongoing stray dog neutering programme from divisional to district level in the province. 

The initiative was launched in Peshawar in 2020 as a pilot project with the objective of controlling the population of stray dogs to eventually contain the deadly zoonotic disease of rabies caused by dog bites. 

Realising positive results in the form of a 50 percent decrease in cases of dog bite in Peshawar in 2021, the Livestock Department decided to extend the project at the divisional level, informed Dr Syed Masoom Ali Shah, Project Director. 

The drive was a replication of the WHO-recommended programme Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-return (TNVR) to control rabies and the overpopulation of street dogs, Dr Mosoom explained.

Talking to APP, Dr Masoom Ali Shah said, “The recent initiative of further expansion in the project at district level has been taken in pursuance of the directives of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ali Ameen Gandapur, seeking an effective and humane policy of managing the stray dog population across the province.” 

He said, “A summary has been prepared for the extension of neutering services at the district level and will soon be started after the approval of the Chief Minister.”

“The department has already started training its staff members for operations to neuter the dog and spay the bitch, making them incapable of reproduction,” he said. “Similarly, anti-rabies vaccines for administering to dogs are also supplied in different parts of the province,” he added.

During the initiative in Peshawar, thousands of dogs were operated on and neutralised, which were caught and brought to the department.

The project helped in reducing the infection of deadly rabies disease from 8000 cases to 3000 during that period at Lady Reading Hospital, the largest health facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Masoom claimed.

Director Livestock said, “People can approach the department with lodging complaints about the presence of stray dogs in their area, and a mobile team will visit to operate and neutralize the dogs.”

According to a survey by Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP), “There are around 7,500 to 10,000 stray dogs in Peshawar district.”

According to statistical data, “The number of rabies cases in Pakistan is reported at around 90,000 on an annual basis, with 60 percent of infections occurring among teenage boys as young as 15 years of age.”

During the TNVR initiative, the Livestock Department also established a state-of-the art operation theatre in Peshawar with the capacity to operate several dogs on a daily basis.

“Before releasing the dog in the open after operation, a collar installed with reflectors is fixed around its neck, and a tattoo is printed on the ear as a mark of identity that the dog has already been operated on,” he informed APP.

Dr. Masoom said, “So far, the stray dog population has been controlled only through the culling of dogs by shooting them or poisoning the animal, which is a very cruel practice.”

“Presently, neutralisation of stray dogs is going on in Mardan, Swat, Kohat, Bannu, Abbotabad, and D I Khan,” he added.

“Meanwhile, Pakistan Animal Rights Advocacy Group (PARAG), an association of civil and animal rights activists, has appreciated the transition of the anti-rabies control programme from dog culling to neutralising,” he further said.

“That is indeed the right direction for containing rabies and the population of stray dogs as recommended by WHO,” observed Dr Ayeza Haider, Chairman of PARAG.

Talking to APP, Dr Ayeza informed, “Punjab province has also formulated a new policy in line with WHO’s recommended TNVR approach.”

“The implementation of the policy in the whole country is needed to ensure the prevention of cruelty against animals,” Dr Ayeza stressed.

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