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Monday Dec 04 2017

First ever sanctuary set up for stray dogs in Peshawar

An excited dog tries to greet people at a protest against dog-culling in Karachi, Pakistan, March 18, 2017. Photo:Haseem uz Zaman/File

PESHAWAR: A black and white coloured stray puppy, Bela, was in a miserable condition due to a leg fracture caused by stone pelting — a very common practice in Pakistan by mischievous children towards stray dogs.

The little mutt — which faced starvation and was in dire need of dietary and medical care — finally got shelter at a sanctuary established by an animal lover in Peshawar.

Established by Zeba Masood — a Pakistan-origin US national — Lucky Animal Protection Shelter is the first-ever facility that provides refuge to pooches in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"I have set up the sanctuary for providing protection and shelter to maltreated, beaten, and starved stray dogs," Masood told APP.

"It makes me sick and breaks my heart to see all these stray dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens on the road in pathetic conditions. The objective behind establishing this facility is to provide shelter to mistreated stray dogs, mostly seen roaming around butcher's shops or dumps of garbage in search of food."

"I wanted to do something for these animals who are in need of attention and help from human beings," she remarked as she fed dogs at her sanctuary — set up at Canal Road near University Town on the city's outskirts.

These unattended stray dogs also pose serious health risks to human beings in form of dog bite, which causes fatal disease as well as rabies.

Masood claimed that one of the province's leading hospitals receives and treats on a daily basis about 30 patients who have been bitten by dogs. Unavailability of anti-rabies vaccines is also another issue of serious concern, she added.

However, data compiled by the District Health Information System (DHIS) reveals that 58,252 cases of dog bites were reported in 2016 across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The issue of dog bites is not getting any attention, Dr Qudratullah — a veterinary doctor who also takes care of dogs at Lucky Animal Protection Shelter — told APP.

She said it "is causing fatal rabies mostly to children".

Hundreds of thousands of dogs populate the streets of Pakistani cities, posing a health risk to the people. However, the concerned authorities are not giving due consideration to the problem, the doctor said.

Poisoning stray dogs is not a solution to this problem either, she stated. "The government should also set up shelter homes for these pooches" in addition to the existing, private-owned ones, she suggested.

"We have vaccinated and neutered all the 35 dogs kept in the sanctuary to make them harmless," Javed Khan — Masood's husband — said.

Khan — who supports his wife in animal protection — explained that he plans to make a proper kennel at the site of the enclosure to separate puppies from the adult dogs. He said the daily expense of feeding these dogs is around Rs1,500-2,000.

Khan said they have help from a domestic helper — who takes care of the dogs — while Dr Qudratullah vaccinates the animals and performs surgeries for injuries and broken bones.

In order to get other people involved — and to raise funds — the couple have created a page on Facebook called 'Save the Animals in Peshawar', where they upload pictures and videos to inform people how dogs can be protected and cared for at the sanctuary.

People are slowly approaching them, Khan noted, and some have also sent donations for the sanctuary.

Once they have enough financing, they plan to open a branch of the sanctuary at Hayatabad.

Earlier, "we had around 35 dogs in the sanctuary and seven were adopted by people", Khan revealed.


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