Peshawar: Tired of seeing strays mistreated by people in the streets? Does your heart break at the sight of hungry dogs and cats rummaging in trash dumps and around the butcher’s shop in search of a morsel of food? Or that fly-blown mangy little mutt in need of medical attention?

You could now bring them to a stray sanctuary where the maltreated, beaten and down-on-their –luck cats and dogs in Peshawar where they could be fed and cared for.

Zeba Masood, a Pakistani-American female has established “Lucky Animal Protection Shelter” in Peshawar which provides refuge to pooches living dangerously on the streets. The center, she claims, is the first ever of its kind not only in Peshawar but entire KP.

“The purpose of the shelter is to provide a sanctuary to mistreated animals,’ says Masood. “Here they could be properly fed, provided medical treatment and neutered.”

The idea of a stray shelter came to Masood when she recently visited Pakistan and observed that both in urban and rural areas, stray animals endure mistreatment every day. Strays on the other hand, she observed, also pose a risk in the form of dog bites and viral diseases like rabies.

The largest health facility of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Lady Reading Hospital, gets 30 cases of dog bites every day. According to a report compiled by the District Health Information System (DHIS), 17,841 cases of dog bites were reported from January to March this year in KP.

The report states that dog bites rank 23rd in the list 43 top diseases. The cases are reported in the outpatient department of hospitals and treated at primary and secondary health facilities of the province.

While these dogs are harmful for human beings, authorities have no other solution to stop it but the official and the only way they have is to poison them to death.

In August 2016, to prevent the spread of rabies and dog bites in Karachi, authorities of the city poisoned more than 700 hundred dogs to death. The district administration of Peshawar, in order to curtail the population of dogs and prevent dog bites in the city, also do the same every now and then, especially in summers.

Animals right’s activist Masood says that population of strays is multiplying everywhere in the country. “We have vaccinated and neutered all 30 pooches brought to the shelter so that their population is controlled and they become harmless.”

Husband of Zeba Masood, Javed Khan is also an animal -lover and supports her in the cause.

Javed Khan says: “We are planning making proper arrangements and providing more facilities for other animals at the shelter.”

According to Khan, the daily cost of the feeding strays ranges from $10 to $15 every day as they feed them meat, bread, and dog food. They, he says, need money and manpower in order to expand the facility as it’s been just three months that Masood has taken up the initiative and created this shelter

Khan said they’re trying to engage the community and want them to support the cause through cash, food donations or offering volunteer services. Funds are being raised online for the cause under named “Save the Animals in Peshawar”, through which US$487 have been collected.

The couple has created a Facebook page named as “Lucky Animal Protection Shelter-LAPS” where all daily activities are listed and posted due to which more and more people now know about the center and keep visiting. “People’s response, on social media or those visiting the shelter, is largely positive and encouraging,” says Khan.

Animal rights activists are of the view that the law concerning stray animals in Pakistan also reflect lack of seriousness of the government towards the issue.

Humaira Ayesha, conservation head at World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan says that the only law related to rights of domestic animals in all four provinces is the outdated “Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act (PCAA) 1890.” The Punjab province, however, has taken a step forward in this regard where the Society for Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA) to Animals exists under the 1890 law.

PCAA specifically deals with domestic animal rights and describes penalties and punishments for offenders. The act is effective all over Pakistan since 1959 except the federal capital where it became effective in 1981.

The act, was amended thrice by the British government that originally drafted it. It was last amended in December 15, 1937. But since independence, successive governments in Pakistan have never modified the law. The penalties in the act remain the same as in 1937 – ranging from 50 to 500 different offences.

Activists like Ayesha says that this is the reason the law has long lost its deterrence effect. Moreover, there is no proper implementation of the law.

“The penalties need to be revamped to make the law effective,” says Ayesha. “Measures should be taken to properly implement it in all provinces.”

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