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Are Dhaka streets no longer safe for dogs?

  • Published at 09:21 pm September 20th, 2020
street dogs and crows during locksown
Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

‘Relocation initiative not the right solution’

Sadman Kabir, a university student, looked forward to every morning when he went jogging with his pet dog Tukku. Tukku was not only a pet that he cared for with unconditional love, she was like a family member to him. 

But since his dog went missing two weeks ago, every waking hour has been agonizing for Sadman.

Sadman blamed the Cantonment Board authorities of Dhaka for the disappearance of Tukku as well as some other dogs of the area.

“They took my dog away and killed her,” alleged Sadman, a resident of Dhaka Cantonment area.

Pointing the finger at the Cantonment Board authorities, he said: “Even Tukku’s body couldn't be recovered or tracked down.

“I heard that she might have been killed and thrown in a dustbin. That’s why I couldn’t find her.”

However, Md Hafizur Rahman, conservancy officer of Dhaka Cantonment Board, denied the claim by saying the board authorities have not conducted any such drives recently.

He said: “Maybe a dog had died and the cleaning staff left its dead body in a dustbin. Not a single dog has been killed and nothing like this will happen in the future either.”

Tukku’s disappearance is only one among multiple similar cases reported in Dhaka of late. There are multiple reports claiming the disappearance of stray dogs from different areas as well.

Several city dwellers said the city corporations are behind the disappearances, and cited the Dhaka South City Corporation’s (DSCC) recent move to relocate stray dogs, which was heavily criticized by various quarters.

The indescribable bond 

Syed Iftekhar Towheed, a resident of the capital’s Lalmatia neighbourhood, said a stray dog he had been feeding for the past few months went missing three days ago.

“I always wanted to have a pet dog but I was forbidden to do so, first by my family and then our apartment committee,” he said.

During the lockdown period, his wish almost came true. Even though it was a stray dog and he could not take it home, he cared for it nonetheless. But he said his friend was taken away from him.

“I truly have no love or respect for this country and the people running it. This is just sad. 

“Bye bye Doggo. You have been a good boy,” Towheed posted on his Facebook account.

Tauhid Tanjim, a postgraduate student at Dhaka University (DU), said: “I heard today [Sunday] that an ill-fated dog was thrown into a manhole near DU’s Registrar Building area by some cleaning staff of the university as they thought that the dog was dead.

“We don’t know whether she was actually dead or became unconscious after giving birth to a puppy.”

Tanjim continued: “I, along with several other DU students, started feeding the stray dogs and cats that roamed around the campus from March 27 as the poor creatures could not manage food since the campus had been closed.

“Now the campus is empty and the absence of dogs has dealt a blow to the environment of the university. You can see garbage at many places; the stray dogs usually ate the garbage. But now the ecological balance has been disrupted due to the declining number of dogs.”

Tanjim got emotional in mid-conversation and said the dogs had an indescribable bond with him and the other students.

“A dog — we called him Buru — went missing after the DSCC relocation drive at DU campus on September 14. Buru once ran behind my motorcycle and followed me home. You can imagine how close a bond we had,” he said. 

The dogs that roam the DU dorm areas protect the resident students’ belongings from being stolen during this indefinite closure, he added. 

Relocation not the right solution

Orpita Khan Mohua, another dog lover who fed stray dogs roaming the streets of Airport, Nikunja, Gulshan, and Badda areas amid the Covid-19 closure said the inhumane relocation program of DSCC is illegal.

She said: “Sterilization is the right way to reduce dog increase, not relocation or culling.

“One mayor [Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam] is showing humanitarian behaviour, while the other [DSCC Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh] is doing the opposite.

“DSCC claims that they are not operating any such drives [against stray dogs]. Then who is doing this using their tagged vehicles? The drives are documented; the authorities need to declare where they stand on the issue.”

Disregarding growing criticism from animal lovers and rights activists, around 50-70 dogs were injected with tranquilizers and relocated from the DU’s TSC, Dhanmondi, and Ramna Park areas.

DSCC said it moved the dogs to Matuail landfill following Mayor Taposh’s instructions.

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