Both city corporations in Dhaka have failed to sterilise stray dogs leading to an increase in its population over the years and are now mulling relocation.
While overpopulation of dogs has created a public menace in the capital, Dhaka South City Corporation’s relocation plan is drawing huge criticism as animal rights activists oppose such move while there are laws that forbid both culling and relocation.
Animal and green activists said that after failing to perform their designated duty of controlling the dog population, the city corporation is set to act in breach of law.
Officials of both city corporations said that the DSCC for last 29 months and the DNCC for nine months did not doing anything to control the dog population for lack of manpower and budgetary allocation.
Dhaka North city mayor Md Atiqul Islam told New Age that the DNCC would not relocate any dog, rather it would make an effort to strengthen vaccination and sterilisation in cooperation with government and non-government agencies.
‘We will start CNVR — catch, neutralise, vaccinate and return — policy but are yet to draw up a comprehensive plan,’ he told New Age on Tuesday.
DSCC public relation officer Abu Naser said that the DSCC, so far, has relocated about 100 dogs from Dhanmondi and Ramna lake area to Matuail till Friday in five days ‘on public demand.’
‘We are not relocating any dog now. We will decide further steps soon but no relocation in the meantime,’ he said.
But animal rights activist and Care for Paws chairman Sourav Shamin said that the corporation continued relocating as he found many dogs missing in Dhamondi area since Monday.
Founding chairman of the People for Animal Welfare Rakibul Haq Emil said that city corporation’s truck also picked up dogs from Azimpur, Kalabaga and Ramna areas on Sunday and Monday.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon general secretary Sharif Jamil said that if the dogs were relocated suddenly it would impact the biodiversity of the city because each animal plays its role in nature.
He urged the city corporation to change its plan.
The city corporation used to control dog by culling them which the High Court banned in 2014.
Residents from different area complained that dog population has gradually increased, causing public sufferings in many areas.
The Infectious Disease Hospital officials said that they were getting average 200 dog bite patients every day at the hospital in the capital’s Mohakhali.
The hospital officials said that over 36,000 dog bites patients took treatment from the hospital in the last eight months while 76,000 took treatment in 2019 and 81,000 in 2018.
Roughly 95 per cent of the victims were from Dhaka, they said.
Six grader student MMHG Rabbani living in Wireless Gate of Mohakhali under DNCC’s ward No 19 became victim of dog biting suddenly when he was playing near his house on August 30.
‘When I was playing, a dog suddenly bit me at the back of my knee back,’ he said at IDH.
Farid Hossain, father of Zisan, 5, a dog bite victim, living at Mirpur said that dog population at their area has increased alarmingly.
Amid the increased number of dog bite incidents the DSCC started relocating the dogs from Dhaka to the periphery and outside the city on September 15.
City residents seem divided over the issue as a group of people held human chains demanding dog control while others demanded that dogs should be protected against any inhuman treatments.
On Thursday, actress Jaya Ahsan, Obhoyaronno chairman Rubaiya Ahmed and People for Animal Welfare Foundation chairman Rakibul Islam jointly filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the legality of the drive to relocate stray dogs.
City corporation officials said that they took the initiative in the face of increasing incidents of dog bites, as an alternative to the dog culling banned by the HC.
Animal rights activists said that dogs have the right to live in the city if it did not harm anyone.
They said that the failure of the city corporation turned into a curse for the domesticated carnivore.
The communicable disease control unit of the health department vaccinated 48,512 dogs in 2019, although there was no study on dog population in Dhaka.
Umme Ruman Siddiqui, deputy director of the CDC, said that due to COVID-19, they couldn’t vaccinate city canines scheduled for May this year.
‘We only vaccinate, we do not sterilise,’ she said.
According to KBM Saiful Islam, chairman of medicine and public health department at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, both relocation of dogs and culling of dogs are inhuman and they are not going to provide a solution.
Saiful said that sterilisation was the best way to protect both public health and animal rights.
Dogs strictly maintain their territory and after relocation local dogs would continue to fight with them over their territorial right, creating a public nuisance, he said.
Animal rights activists said that relocation of canines against the Animal Welfare Act 2019 which was enacted on July 10, 2019 repealing the earlier Cruelty to Animals Act 1920 to protect animal rights.
Although the animal welfare law provides for penalties for cruelty to them, yet harming and killing of animals continue across the nation, said animal rights activists.
In 2011, the government took an action plan to deduct zero death from rabies by 2020 but later it was extended till 2022.
Under the action plan, the government also set the deadline to vaccinate and sterilise each and every stray dog to eradicate rabies.
Health department officials claimed that in 60 districts out of 64 they have completed vaccination for only one round and in four district for two times as part of the paln.
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