KP Expands Stray Dog Neutering Program

The Livestock and Dairy Development Department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is set to broaden its stray dog neutering initiative to district levels across the province.

Initially piloted in Peshawar in 2020, the program aimed to reduce the stray dog population and combat rabies transmission, a fatal disease spread through dog bites.

Dr. Syed Masoom Ali Shah, the Project Director, highlighted a significant 50% decrease in dog bite incidents in Peshawar in 2021, prompting the department to extend the program to divisional levels.

Following WHO guidelines, the initiative adopted the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) method to manage rabies and tackle the issue of street dog overpopulation.

Dr. Masoom underscored that the decision to expand the project to district levels stemmed from directives issued by Chief Minister Ali Ameen Gandapure, demonstrating a commitment to a comprehensive and compassionate approach to stray dog population management.

During the Peshawar initiative, thousands of dogs were operated on and neutered after being caught and brought to the department. Masoom claimed that the project significantly reduced rabies infections from 8000 cases to 3000 during that period at Lady Reading Hospital, the largest health facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Livestock Department’s Director stated, “People can lodge complaints with the department about stray dogs in their area, and a mobile team will visit to operate and neuter the dogs.” A survey by Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) estimated there are 7,500 to 10,000 stray dogs in Peshawar district. Statistical data indicates that around 90,000 rabies cases are reported annually in Pakistan, with 60 percent of infections occurring among teenage boys as young as 15 years old.

During the TNVR initiative, the Livestock Department established a state-of-the-art operating theater in Peshawar capable of handling several dogs daily. “Before releasing operated dogs, a collar with reflectors is placed around their necks, and a tattoo is marked on their ears for identification,” informed APP.

Dr. Masoom stated, “Previously, stray dog populations were controlled through cruel methods like shooting or poisoning, but TNVR provides a humane alternative.”

“The TNVR drive not only positively impacts public health but also transitions rabies control policies from culling to neutering,” he continued. “During neutering operations, dogs are vaccinated against rabies, and rabid dogs are euthanized for public safety.”

“Currently, neutering of stray dogs is ongoing in Mardan, Swat, Kohat, Bannu, Abbottabad, and D.I. Khan,” he added. “PARAG, an association of civil and animal rights activists, commends the shift from dog culling to neutering in the anti-rabies control program,” he further stated.

“This aligns with WHO recommendations and is the right direction for rabies containment and stray dog population management,” observed Dr. Ayeza Haider, Chairman of PARAG. Dr. Ayeza informed APP, “Punjab province has also adopted a new policy in line with WHO’s TNVR approach.”

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