We starve them, kidnap them and even murder them, but the moral community that rejects the abuse of humans, does not consider what we are doing to animals as something wrong.
If you reside in any of the big cities of Pakistan, you must have woken up to the sounds of gunshots every few months. Gunshots, loud whimpers, more gunshots and then complete silence… a deafening silence.
Dog culling, which basically means to kill, takes place to reduce the population of stray dogs and the occurrence of rabies. It is a brutal and outdated practice that still exists in a few countries around the world — Pakistan being one of them.
As per a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, around 97,000 dog bite cases are reported every year in Pakistan, however, there are still no exact figures of the number of deaths caused by rabies. And the governments’ solution to combating the spread of the deadly disease, is dog culling.
Every year, thousands of dogs are brutally murdered by being shot or poisoned. The government, under the municipal department, hires ‘dog shooters’, whose only job is to kill all the dogs in any area. These shooters are given old guns, which mostly miss the target, resulting in injured dogs suffering for hours as they slowly bleed to death.
According to the World Animal Protection (WAP), “Culling dogs is not the solution to rabies”. It is also not the solution to decrease dog population, because, for every dog that’s left, eight more puppies will be born and with the imbalance created in the environment due to dog culling, more food will be available for the new ones.
The surviving animals will keep on reproducing and these new dogs will then move to areas that were previously made ‘dog-free’. This cycle continues every year, the dog population doesn’t decrease and nor is rabies contained. So what is the solution that can eliminate both rabies and dog population? It is TNVR.
TNVR stands for Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return. You pick up dogs from the streets, spay/neuter them so they can no longer reproduce; vaccinate them so they do not get rabies, tag them or chip them and then return them to the area they were found in. This way, stray dogs will not only be free of rabies, but their population will also gradually start to decrease.
As per WAP, “the only way to eliminate the virus is through vaccination. Vaccinating at least 70% of the dogs in an area creates herd immunity, slowing the spread of rabies until it dies out”.
A single female can produce up to 2,048 puppies in just four years! Now imagine the effect of spaying one female. A study in India (Reece & Chawla, 2006) reported a decrease of 31.8% to 51% in dog population in six years when 50% or 70% of the population was spayed and neutered. Meanwhile, Thailand has seen a decline of 50% in just five years.
If we just talk about rabies drives, countries as Panama, Chile, Brazil and Argentina initiated countrywide rabies vaccine drives that have led to them being rabies-free for over 10 years now.
One of the major reasons why no time is spent on campaigns such as TNVR is because of the public opinion regarding dogs. In our society, dogs are looked down upon, and we consider them as non-feeling, non-thinking beings.
However, according to a 2012 University of Cambridge study, animals have a conscience, which means they think, feel and respond to the world in the same way as humans, but just because they express their emotions differently, we tend to overlook them.
The result of this willful forgetfulness is reflected in the way we treat dogs. We stone, beat and even shoot them dead every day.
Imagine the same for a human being; where he or she is starved, kidnapped, poisoned, murdered, shot or tortured. Most governmental bodies around the world, NGOs and individuals would agree that such acts are wrong. They would criminalise such acts and punish those who commit them.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for animals, their abuse is accepted by the same moral community that rejects the abuse of humans. As a society, we still do not see what we are doing to animals as something wrong. We are okay with watching animals suffer; we are okay with the constant and widespread abuse of animals.
Perhaps it is time for the citizens of this country to wake up and take a good hard look in the mirror. Have we become the very monsters we speak of? Have we become so selfish that we refuse to acknowledge the abuse that takes place outside our homes every day? Have we become so arrogant that we deny basic rights to other living beings around us? Have we completely lost humanity and compassion? But most importantly, are we even human anymore?