ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) to respond within a fortnight to a case filed by an animal welfare group seeking an end to the mass shooting of stray dogs by city officials.
The writ petition was filed by Faryal Nawaz, a co-founder of the Help Welfare Organization (HWO), an Islamabad-based community group that provides animal rescue services to stray and wild animals in the twin cities and surrounding region.
They argued that the ongoing practice of mass shooting and poisoning of healthy stray dogs by the CDA and MCI’s Sanitation Directorate is inhumane, and is in violation of the Constitution, laws and Islamic principles.
Every year, personnel of the Sanitation Directorate use shotguns or poison to barbarically kill hundreds of stray dogs in residential areas of Islamabad, under the pretence that they are a nuisance and health risk to the human residents.
The petition used expert reports of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support its argument that the killing of dogs does not reduce the threat of rabies and other diseases, but on the contrary can be counter-productive and increase health risks.
WHO guidelines regarding rabies state that there is no evidence to show that the mass killing of dogs alone has ever had significant impact on reducing stray dog population densities or the spread of rabies. Instead, the WHO recommends mass dog vaccine programs as the most effective measure to control rabies.
The petition named the CDA, MCI and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) as respondents and pointed out that they have never attempted to implement more effective and humane methods to control stray dog populations or the spread of canine diseases, such as mass vaccination and neutering.
The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1890 criminalises the killing of any animal unnecessary cruelty, however Section 17 of the law makes it inapplicable to public officials. The petitioner however claims that this indemnity to public officials violates the Constitution.
The petition points to Article 2 of the Constitution which declares Islam as the state religion and cites several passages from the Holy Quran and Prophetic traditions which promote the welfare of animals in support of its case.
In response to the writ petition, Justice Amer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court ordered the CDA, MCI, IWMB, as well as the Attorney General of Pakistan to provide their responses to HWO’s claims within fourteen days.