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The apparent negligence of the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RCB) and the cantonment boards has led to a surge in the population of stray dogs in both the city and Cantt areas.
Citizens, worried by the prevailing situation say streets and markets are now roamed by these aggressive creatures, including a significant number of puppies.
The uncontrolled presence of stray dogs has also begun to impact traffic flow, causing disruptions in streets and intersections. In particular, canine species have been observed resting under parked cars, causing inconvenience to vehicle owners.
The issue is further exacerbated after sunset when the streets are occupied by these stray dogs, leading to safety concerns.
Disturbingly, there have been instances of dog attacks on women and children during the day, while at night, individuals, especially cart vendors, are at risk. Those who work late into the night, closing offices and shops, also face the threat of encountering these aggressive creatures.
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Despite numerous complaints from citizens, the Metropolitan Corporation and the Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment Boards have yet to devise an effective solution to address the problem. Reports of dog bites are on the rise, and residents are facing difficulties obtaining dog bite vaccines from government hospitals. Moreover, government hospitals are reportedly lacking both dog bite and snake bite injections, compelling the affected individuals to purchase these medical supplies from private pharmacies.
In an attempt to mitigate the situation, the district headquarters hospital is providing a free injection to individuals, particularly youth, children, or women, bitten by dogs. However, the remaining 13 injections are required to be procured from the open market.
Shockingly, the authorities concerned have not initiated any drive to control the situation in the city for the past two decades. Moreover, the shooting of dogs has been prohibited, leading to the dismissal of firing squad employees in government institutions. Although a poisoning system was introduced as an alternative, it remains unimplemented.
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Malik Zaheer Awan, Chairman of the Citizen Action Committee, expressed concern about the increasing difficulty for children to play in the streets. “Despite multiple written requests to the Municipal Corporation, no concrete actions have been taken,” he lamented.
On the other hand, the Municipal Corporation cites a lack of funds as the reason for not initiating any campaign to get rid of the menace.
Citizens, including Asif Khan and Hafiz Sajid, warned that if the authorities concerned fail to find a suitable solution for the issue, residents may take matters into their own hands, potentially resorting to eliminating dogs found without leashes in street markets. They have advised pet owners to leash their dogs to avoid any repercussions for the safety of both the animals and the community.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2023.