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Completed plan to expand stray dog ​​neutering program to district level in KP

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 21st Apr, 2024) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Livestock and Dairy Development Department has finalized a summary for expanding the ongoing stray dog ​​sterilization program from divisional to district level in the province.

The initiative was launched in Peshawar in 2020 as a pilot project with the aim of controlling the stray dog ​​population to ultimately curb the deadly zoonotic disease rabies, caused by dog ​​bites.

The livestock department achieved positive results in the form of a 50 percent reduction in dog bite cases in Peshawar in 2021 and decided to expand the project at the divisional level, said Dr. Syed Masoom Ali Shah, Project Director.

The move was a replication of the WHO-recommended Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-return (TNVR) program to control rabies and street dog overpopulation, Dr. Mosoom out.

Speaking to APP, Dr. Masoom Ali Shah said: “The recent initiative for further expansion of the project at the district level has been taken following the directives of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtukhwa, Ali Ameen Gandapure, who aims to implement an effective and humane policy for the management of the stray dog ​​population across the province.”

He said, “A summary has been prepared for expansion of sterilization services at the district level and will be initiated soon after approval of the Chief Minister.”

“The department has already started training its staff for operations to neuter the dog and sterilize the bitch, rendering them incapable of reproducing,” he said.

“Similarly, rabies vaccines for administration to dogs are also being supplied in various parts of the province,” he added.

During the initiative in Peshawar, thousands of dogs were operated on and neutralized, which were captured and brought to the department.

The project helped reduce infection of the deadly disease rabies from 8,000 cases to 3,000 during that period at Lady Reading Hospital, the largest health facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Masoom claimed.

Director Animal Husbandry said, “People can approach the department with complaints about the presence of stray dogs in their area and a mobile team will come and operate and neutralize the dogs.”

According to a survey by Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP), “There are approximately 7,500 to 10,000 stray dogs in Peshawar district.”

According to statistical data, “The number of rabies cases in Pakistan is estimated at approximately 90,000 annually, with 60 percent of infections occurring among teenage boys from the age of 15 years.

Under the TNVR initiative, the Animal Husbandry Department has also set up a state-of-the-art operation theater in Peshawar with the capacity to operate on multiple dogs on a daily basis.

“Before the dog is released into the open air after the operation, a collar with reflectors is attached around the neck and a tattoo is printed on the ear as proof of identity that the dog has already been operated on,” he told APP.

Dr. Masoom said: “Until now, the stray dog ​​population has only been controlled by culling dogs by shooting them or poisoning the animal, which is a very cruel practice.”

“In addition to achieving positive public health outcomes, the TNVR action has also helped transition rabies control policy from the cruel practice of culling dogs to neutralizing the animal,” he continued.

“During the neutralization operation, the dog is also vaccinated against rabies, and if a rabbit dog is found, the animal is euthanized in the greater interest of public safety.”

“Currently, neutralization of stray dogs is taking place in Mardan, Swat, Kohat, Bannu, Abbotabad and DI Khan,” he added.

“Meanwhile, Pakistan Animal Rights Advocacy Group (PARAG), an association of civil and animal rights activists, has appreciated the transition of the anti-rabies control program from culling dogs to neutralizing them,” he further said.

“That is indeed the right direction for containing rabies and the stray dog ​​population as recommended by WHO,” said Dr. Ayeza Haider, Chairman of PARAG.

Speaking to APP, Dr. Ayeza: “Punjab Province has also formulated a new policy in line with the WHO-recommended TNVR approach.”

“The implementation of the policy across the country is necessary to prevent cruelty to animals,” Dr. Ayeza.

She also urged mass vaccination of dogs to prevent rabies infection and stressed the need for departments involved in the process to vaccinate every animal during the operation.

“It is a welcome decision by the KP government to replicate the practice across the province and would show positive results in reducing cruelty to animals,” she added.