Dog Lovers Fight Poisoning of Strays

By Tin Htet Paing 16 May 2016

RANGOON — A petition campaign organized by animal rights activists in Rangoon was launched over the weekend, urging the city’s municipal body to stop the extermination of stray dogs and look for sustainable solutions to the city’s animal overpopulation problem.

Rangoon’s animal rights advocates gathered in Mahabandoola Park downtown on Sunday and collected more than 100 signatures for their petition. Members of the group said that they will continue organizing more supporters and would demand the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) stop poisoning the stray dogs.

Kyaw Min Khaing, a member of the group, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the purpose of the campaign is to urge the city’s authorities to look for other sustainable ways to deal with the stray dog problem besides brutally killing them.

“There are other alternative animal-friendly approaches,” he said. “It has been proven that mass killing is not a solution to the overpopulation of stray dogs.”

“We can capture, neuter, vaccinate and release [the stray dogs] back into their neighborhoods. Their inability to reproduce will control the population in the span of a few years.”

According to the YCDC’s Veterinary and Slaughterhouse Department, about 100,000 stray dogs are living in Rangoon’s streets, and poisoning is one of the YCDC’s ordinary policies to control the stray dog population in accordance with 1922 City of Rangoon Municipal Act.

As part of the YCDC’s policy that aims to protect the public from rabies and keep the city’s environment clean, the municipal agency is providing free rabies inoculation and castration for both stray dogs and pet dogs, cooperating with shelters and raising public awareness for responsible pet ownership, an official who requested not to be named told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

“We are just following the procedures. I don’t want to comment on the campaign,” the official said. “We don’t want to do the poisoning either, but we don’t have enough vaccines for all the stray dogs in the city.”

According to the official, an organization led by Min Lee, the wife of the former US Ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, has signed an agreement with the municipal body for a three-year project to handle Rangoon’s stray dogs problem. The official said that the project would start in a month and YCDC also plans to open an animal shelter before the end of 2016.

Kyaw Min Khaing said that Rangoon’s animal lovers are eager to cooperate with the YCDC, but they are staunchly opposed to poisoning the dogs.

“We don’t want public to hate the YCDC for [poisoning dogs],” he said. “We want to work with the YCDC to solve the stray dog problem as long as the authorities stop poisoning them.”