Friday, October 16, 2015

Death sentence for dogs in south Lebanon

After a recent article in a local website, dogs in the south of Lebanon are under threat. More than 30 dogs were killed in just one night, and more killing is happening every day!

Dogs have been cruelly poisoned and shot by private citizens and the municipality in Qana, Tyre and Burj el Shemaly.

Pictures and footage show dogs suffering greatly, bleeding and eventually dying from misplaced shots or struggling for agonizing minutes as poison slowly destroys their bodies. Even groups of young puppies were killed. Many of these dogs are friendly, vaccinated, and cared for by people in the area.

There is definitely a need for humane dog population management. But this is not a solution and will not lead to a better situation.

Killing deals only with the symptoms - not the causes. It will not lead to population management and must not be relied upon as a response. If anything, wounded or injured dogs can present a far greater risk as they are now scared, injured and struggling to survive. A number of people were injured by one dog, and even more people were injured in their attempts to kill dogs.

After speaking to the municipality of Tyre -
- the municipality confirms that it has killed dogs now and in previous years, and that citizens are killing dogs
- the municipality believes that the one dog which attacked people was trained to fight or to attack
- no dog that was killed was tested for rabies or transmittable diseases

The presence of homeless dogs, many in a poor state of welfare, is a direct result of other problems.

Municipalities do not regulate pet shops, do not regulate the sale or trade of dogs, do not register dogs, do not require vaccines, do not require standards of care, do not ban dog fighting or abuse of dogs... This failure to regulate these places and improve the welfare of dogs creates the perfect conditions to have a significant problem.

Year after year dogs are exterminated, and this has brought no long term improvement. It is no surprise that there is no benefit, the guidelines, case studies and examples from country after country show that killing does not work.

There are solutions which have worked in far more complex and difficult circumstances than this and there are resources available locally and internationally. We are meeting with the municipalities this Saturday with media to ask questions, to put solutions in place, and to stop this cruel and unnecessary slaughter.

What can be done?
- Lebanon is part of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an intergovernmental organization that has guidelines on stray dog control, there is a regional representative based in Beirut, a national OIE focal point and an OIE animal welfare focal point.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Public Health both have experience and resources that can help, and have a national responsibility.
- Refer to the animal protection and welfare law, approved unanimously by the Council of Ministers and now needing a final vote in Parliament.

- Stop the sources of dogs by regulating pet shops, breeding facilities, the sale and trade of dogs, banning dog fighting and improving responsible guardianship.
- Require all dogs to be identified and registered.
- Allow animal welfare organizations and groups, as well as concerned citizens, to help
- Educate citizens and public officials so they are more empowered and aware

This should have never happened, not the killing of dogs or the injuries to people, and this is a very clear call to act so this terrible situation never happens again.

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