Following severe criticism from the public after scores of stray dogs were culled in different parts of the country, Peshawar’s livestock department has come up with a perfect and humane solution: don’t kill but sterilise.’
Sterilisation will not only protect people from dog bites, which could be potentially life-threatening, but it will also help control the population of stray dogs. The project has been launched in Peshawar to perform sterilisation surgery on dogs at a dedicated facility.
Officials aware of the development stated that dog bites can cause rabies, which is a fatal viral infection. Statistics show that approximately 90,000 cases of rabies are reported from across the country annually with some 60% of infections occurring among people as young as 15 years of age.
Livestock department officials informed The Express Tribune that once bitten by a rabid dog, a person must be administered a fast-acting shot (rabies immune globulin) to prevent the virus from causing an infection. Once signs and symptoms of rabies appear, the infected person can die.
Officials said that per estimates, there are 7,500 stray dogs across the district and the department has come up with a plan, which has already been approved, according to which stray dogs will not only live but will not threaten human lives with rabies. They also added that two compounds have been designated by the livestock department where dogs will be kept and later operated.
“Under the pilot project, we have planned to sterilise 200 stray dogs currently living in Hayatabad,” Director Livestock department Dr Syed Masoom Ali confirmed the news. “The sterilisation surgery will be performed on stray dogs at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Chagar Matti area of the provincial capital.”
Dr Ali said that the pilot project would not have been materialised if the district administration had not supported the plan.
“The livestock department, the district administration, the water and sanitation services as well as the Peshawar Development Authority will jointly work on the plan,” he said.
Dr Ali also said that once sterilised, the dogs will be tagged and red tape will be placed around their necks.
“Sterilisation will not only save human lives but it will also turn out to be a cost-effective solution for the health department because rabies vaccines are very expensive and difficult to procure,” he said. “If we have all the dogs sterilised and tagged, there will be no need to purchase the anti-rabies vaccines.
He further said that there is a possibility that some dogs might die during the surgery and for that purpose, an incinerator will be available at the hospital where the remains of the dogs will be burnt.
“The project has been approved by the district administration and a sum of Rs20 million allocated for the purpose. The project will be equipped with modern diagnostic equipment including haematology analyser and ultrasound machines. Besides, qualified and trained staff has been chosen to do the job,” Dr Ali said.