Poisoning of Stray Dogs Met With Anger in Rangoon

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 23 October 2013

RANGOON — Authorities have in recent days undertaken a campaign to poison and kill dogs that live on the streets of Burma’s commercial capital, according to residents, who urged City Hall to find a more humane way of dealing with strays.

In what appears to be a move to sanitize Rangoon’s streets ahead of December’s Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), residents say Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) staff since Monday have planted poisoned lumps of meat in parts of the city. YCDC’s veterinary department could not be reached to confirm that it was responsible for the poisonings.

Pho Htoo, a resident of Rangoon’s 45 ward, North Dagon Township, told The Irrawaddy that more than 30 stray dogs died in his ward alone on Monday night.

After leaving the poisoned lumps of meat at night, YCDC staff came and picked up the bodies of the dead dogs the next morning, he said.

“We used to feed some of the stray dogs that hang around our house. Although they are not our dogs, we feel really sad after seeing their last moments,” Pho Htoo said. “It’s really cruel. I can’t tell you how I felt when a poisoned dog looked up at me to help her in front of my home. I had no idea what to do.”

Pho Htoo said City Hall should find a better way to deal with Rangoon’s strays.

Although the majority of SEA Games events will be held in the new capital, Naypyidaw, some will be held in Rangoon, and more visitors from overseas are expected to be in town in coming months.

“I heard that they would clean up the stray dogs because of the SEA Games,” said Myint Oo, a Thingangyun Township resident, who said he took seven local stray dogs into a monastery near his home to save them.

“The authorities said they want to protect locals and foreigners from rabies before the games, but they should have another option for dealing with dogs,” he said.

Earlier this year, Myat Thet Mon opened a home for stray dogs at Rangoon Division’s Shwe Pyauk to house 120 strays rescued near Mandalay from a smuggler who planned to sell them to China for meat.

She said she had been contacted this week by people in the city looking for a place to send strays to avoid them being poisoned.

“I’ve asked to junior staff at YCDC why they are killing dogs with poisoned beef. What they said is though they don’t want to kill them this way, but they have no choice,” she said.

Myat Thet Mon said she was currently looking for a location for a new shelter, and was in talks with authorities to help them deal with strays.

“If I can accept such dogs in my place, [YCDC officials] promised me they will help as much as they can.”