As the census does its job in the megacity that Karachi has become people have pretty mixed reactions to it. For some reason many of my colleagues and coworkers seem to think I have an insight into activities like this and are asking questions like ‘what do I do if my id card is expired’ or ‘why are they asking so many questions’ etc etc. The best way as per me to deal with the government is to comply which is what I have been suggesting rather than the shifty eyed alternative! Only because this is certainly an activity that is going to help us as a city in its planning for the future lying ahead as well as the elections and the distribution of voter lists etc. However there is one segment of our existence in this city which has completely been left out of the census and those are the one million or about stray animals which roam the city’s streets.
Let’s face it stray animals are a burgeoning problem in Karachi and can prove to be dangerous to its inhabitants because they can be carriers of disease as well as territorial of the areas they patrol. Stray animals in gangs can even represent a serious threat to motorcyclists or passersby and the howling and snarling can go a step further if the transaction of ‘shall I pass’ not negotiated properly. However the way they were being dealt with in the past, when they were picked up and dropped off to ‘kutta island’ like pirates being marooned to fend for themselves, or the now employed tactics of shooting them on the road or poisoning them with cheap poison are completely disastrous.
I say this because we must understand that as a society our actions convey how we feel about living things. If from a young age my children for example become used to stray animals being shot and left to writhe on the road and die bleeding out this will become the norm for them. A norm no child in the word should have to absorb into their sentient and innocent brains. Not to add to the fact that rat poison being used to cull animals leaves them in a terrible state for 50 mins or so, before each one of their organs fail one by one and they die a very torturous death. Once this becomes the norm violence is inculcated as ok, which is then translated very efficiently into people being indifferent when more violence against minorities or any other species takes place. Ring a bell yet dear reader? On the why are we quiet when x or y happens to z but not us?
There are people who are working on this cause though; they range from Doctor Muzna Ebrahim whose pets were also culled when they ventured out at the wrong time on the road to Nida Butt the co-owner of the mad school here in Karachi to several other animal rights activists who mounted a big protest on Saturday for this cause. Their suggested methodology is to use the ‘SPAY & Neuter’ Method which is essentially the removal of reproductive organs to make sure this populace does not increase and become an out of control problem. It is also a much more humane method of treating this issue.
Keeping pets as a society is a preservation and understanding of the need to support living things around us in this world, and an effort to make them part of our lives as well. It’s not a one way process either as animals provide comfort understanding and a great listening ear when nobody else is present for many individuals in our city. However just blaming the government will not solve this problem either because neutering can cost as much as Rs 2500 and the spotting of the said subjects their pickup and rehabilitation is also considerable expense which the CBC or KMC here may not have a budget for. Therefore civil society organizations and animal lovers need to build a fund or volunteer services of vets to this job and help the local government in fixing this issue in the most humanist way possible.
Let’s not forget Karachi has seen more than its share of bloodied bodies on its streets in the last decade and adding poor defenseless voiceless animals to it will only go one step further in the ladder of violence which we seem to be climbing at hares pace already.
The writer is the CEO of MindMap Communications. His passion for creating new narratives through technology is surpassed only by his love of nature and capturing it with photography