DSCC Mayor Taposh to meet with animal welfare campaigners

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Animal rights campaigners to offer solutions to crisis of stray dogs

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, has finally agreed to sit with representatives of various animal welfare organizations to discuss the controversial relocation of stray dogs in the capital.

The mayor agreed to sit with the organizations on Tuesday afternoon.

Sources said animal rights campaigners sent letters to the DSCC mayor twice this month, seeking an audience.  In a letter on September 26, the mayor finally agreed to meet with them.

The animal rights campaigners are set to demand a stop to the relocation of dogs and to bring back the dogs that have already been relocated from Dhaka.

Animal welfare organizations attending the meeting include the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Foundation, Obhoyaronno, and Broti foundation. Representatives of concerned citizens and actress Jaya Ahsan are also attending the meeting.

Short-term and long-term solutions

Besides demanding a stop to the relocation of street or stray dogs, the animal welfare organizations are also going to propose both short- and long-term solutions to the dog issue.

“I will make a completely scientific and logical proposal to the mayor, without any bias,” said Rakibul Haq Emil, founder of PAW Foundation.

“We will highlight three key measures with which it is extremely easy to resolve dog related issues. They are vaccination to protect people from rabies, the creation of a dog friendly environment during vaccination drives, and the raising of social awareness,” he said.

“We think these three measures can provide a solution to a problem. The biggest task is to overcome the human fear of dogs,” the PAW founder added. 

As a long term measure, he suggested sterilization programs to control the dog population and the raising of more social awareness. 

Rubaiya Ahmad, chairman of Obhoyaronno, said: “So far, only one side had the mayor’s ear so he decided to move the dogs as per that side’s demands. There was no discussion with us. Now, we have an opportunity to make him understand our perspective.

“It is not just a matter of animal welfare. There are public health and scientific issues to consider. We will make proposals on how to solve the issue,” she added.

On why dogs are needed in the city, PAW founder Emil said: “Dogs roam the city at night and their presence makes rats afraid to come out from the sewers. There are a huge number of rats in the city and they would leave the drains and spread everywhere if there were no dogs. Rats carry many diseases.” 

He also said wildlife does not enter the city localities because there are dogs. Otherwise, snakes and various animals would enter. 

Dogs can stay in Dhaka

Representatives of animal welfare organizations said the two Dhaka city corporations should hold discussions with each other on how to solve dog related problems.

Regarding dog vaccination and sterilization, the city corporations can seek advice from various animal welfare and international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), they added.

They also said relocating the dogs to Matuail is not a solution, as the area would end up with its own dog overpopulation problem in a month.

Rubaiya said: “The government has training facilities, experienced people and resources for mobilization. We [animal welfare organizations] can help the government with raising social awareness and through volunteer work as well.”

She also suggested drawing on the experience of various other countries in dealing with dogs.

“With proper vaccination and sterilization programs to control population, dogs can live alongside humans with no problems,” she added.  

The government’s health department vaccinated some 48,000 dogs in 2019, of which 28,000 were in the DSCC area alone. Street dogs in Dhaka were vaccinated in May last year, but a second dose scheduled for this year has not been given yet due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In August, DSCC relocated 15 stray dogs from Dhaka’s Nagar Bhaban area and some VIP roads. On September 2, Hundreds of animal lovers gathered to protest against DSCC’s move to relocate the stray dogs of Dhaka streets to other districts. 

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