Origins of Project
Several months ago, a young woman named Sadaf contacted the animal welfare organization where I was working in Thailand. She was desperately trying to locate resources that could help her protect a group of stray dogs living at a cemetery outside the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan.
While our organization was not in a position to help, there was something about this woman’s sincere compassion for these dogs that led me to continue conversing with her over Facebook through my personal account in an effort to try to help.
Sadaf discovered the cemetery dogs and their pitiful condition when visiting the graves of her grandparents and mother. Her brother often accompanies her to the cemetery, which is some distance from their home, and he supports Sadaf’s efforts to help the dogs. They usually go to the cemetery by motorbike two or three times a week, bringing food to the dogs.
Over time, Sadaf has established trust with some of the dogs who were initially very fearful, such as Chotu, pictured here.
"The little one white with black is very sweet and he was excited to see me. I called him Chotu, which means little one. He was licking my hands wagging his tail." – Sadaf
Chotu happy to see Sadaf
Included below are excerpts from our online exchanges in early 2018.
**Update February 2019: At the end of this text is a financial update.**
Animal Welfare in Pakistan
World Animal Protection has given Pakistan an “F” (on a scale of A to G) when it comes to animal protection. Read the full country report here.
· Pakistan’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890 recognizes that animals can feel pain and suffer. Sadly, this legislation has not been updated since 1937 and is not enforced.
· Pakistan is a member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which offers guiding principles on animal welfare, but the government does not prioritize animal welfare.
· The country does not support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW), which is a proposed set of guidelines “giving animal welfare due recognition among governments and the international community. An expression of support for the UDAW demonstrates a government’s commitment to working with the international community to improve animal welfare” (p. 2).
· Pakistan does not have legal or policy provisions on management of stray and roaming dog populations.
· “A general lack of concern for animal welfare as an independent issue is … a significant barrier to progress. There is no evidence that there are organs or bodies within the government acting as responsible parties for the development of policy and strategies for the protection of companion animals” (p. 6).
· There is no government authority responsible for improving animal welfare/protection.
· Animal care and protection (i.e., humane education) are not part of Pakistan’s education system.
In 2015, Dawn published an articled titled Call to Enforce Law to Stop Cruelty to Animals, highlighting the challenges of trying to protect animals in Pakistan: “'Presently, Punjab is the only province in the country where the Society for Prevention of Cruelty (SPCA) to Animals exists under the 1890 act and people are fined, though nominally, for maltreating animals. However, it doesn’t have a mechanism to vaccinate and neuter stray dogs and the official way to check stray dog population is to kill them,' said Dr Anwaar Hussain Rizvi, who earlier worked with the society as a senior veterinary officer.”
This puppy was killed in January. At first, Sadaf thought he had died due to cold temperatures. Then she learned that he was attacked by 'naughty boys'.
The few existing animal welfare organizations in Pakistan have very limited resources. They include Vets Care Organization (VCO) Pakistan, Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and ACF Animal Rescue. No companion animal welfare organizations are known to operate in Faisalabad.
Overview of Project
When our conversation began, Sadaf wanted to provide blankets and food to the dogs, as they have no shelter or access to food. I pushed hard for Sadaf to prioritize spaying/neutering and vaccinating the dogs, in line with best practices when it comes to free-roaming dogs. Sadaf agrees that this is a priority. Unfortunately, the veterinarian she consulted has said one surgery alone will cost approximately $175.
Sadaf and I are in the process of trying to identify additional veterinarians whose prices may be more affordable and who may have a similar commitment to helping stray dogs. Skilled dog catchers are often needed in situations like this, where dogs do not trust people.
My efforts to locate traveling veterinarians willing to do a spay/neuter project have not been successful, as most aren’t willing to work with an individual – they must liaise with an existing organization.
At present, Sadaf estimates that there are 17 stray dogs at the cemetery. They are considered a nuisance by the majority of the cemetery visitors. They are regularly attacked with stones by children. And poisoning is a common method of controlling the population.
Some of the dogs at the cemetery
Recently, a guard at the cemetery has begun insisting that Sadaf pay him in order to ensure the dogs are ‘protected.’ However, the guard will not permit Sadaf to feed the dogs. We will continue to look for ways to work with the guard rather than against him. It is challenges like this that can benefit from previous successes in other communities, though success stories from Pakistan are nonexistent thus far in my attempts to reach out.
It is not surprising, then, that the biggest challenges facing Sadaf are education and awareness-building. Sadaf has recently created a Facebook group as a way of finding other animal lovers in Pakistan who may be interested in helping: Hope for Stray Dogs. Supporters outside of Pakistan are welcome to join, too.
I am hopeful that with a lot of perseverance and creativity, Sadaf will be successful in establishing the first companion animal welfare organization in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Use of Funds Raised
Because Sadaf is at the beginning of her animal protection efforts and because the landscape is ever-changing (see above), it is difficult to pinpoint how funds will be used. Yes, in an ideal world there would be a proposal and budget. In my experience and training, I know that this is important to many donors. I have shared a very tentative budget below.
I can try to tell Sadaf about best practices when it comes to starting a community-based organization/NGO/nonprofit, I can share with her what I know about what seems to work and what does not seem to work in other countries with an overpopulation of stray dogs. But the reality is that Sadaf is on the ground in Faisalabad and I am not. She was born and raised in Pakistan and I have never been there. While I can share advice with Sadaf and connect her with as many resources as possible, this is ultimately her project and it is important for her to make decisions based on her knowledge of the community and access to resources.
It is important to note that donating to this project is not tax-deductible. A donation is an investment in a young woman’s dreams to help stray dogs and eventually improve animal welfare in Faisalabad – and Pakistan – more broadly. There are no guarantees that this project will succeed. That said, the project will certainly fail if we don’t try. Sadaf is up against a lot, and I commend her for taking on this challenging project.
Sadaf says hello to a friend
Funds will be sent to Sadaf in increments of no more than $500. I will ask her to provide a breakdown of how those funds are used – the first ‘report’ will be due four months from the date Sadaf receives the funds. These reports and other updates will be shared here.
Sterilization and vaccination of 17 dogs: $2,975
Renting/building a shelter space: $1,500*
*Revised November 5, 2018 to $6,000 for purchase of shelter space.
Food, blankets, other miscellaneous items: $525
Medical care for urgent cases: $500
Other Ways You Can Help
Individuals interested in donating their expertise are invited to contact me directly and I can facilitate a connection with Sadaf. We are in need of experts in the following areas:
· Humane education for children and adults
· Theory of human behavior change
· International development, social work, and NGOs in Pakistan
· Veterinarians and vet nurses, especially those with prior spay/neuter experience in Asia
· Companion animal welfare in low-resource countries
· Animal law
While funds are important, expertise is even MORE important.
Further, if you have any other resources that you believe could be of use to Sadaf and Hope for Stray Dogs, please contact me. We greatly appreciate all forms of support.
Transfer of Funds Raised
GoFundMe is not set up in a way that would allow Sadaf herself to access funds raised (GoFundMe is only set up for this in some countries; Pakistan is not one of them.) As such, I will be accessing funds raised and sending them to Sadaf via Western Union. I am involved in this project as a volunteer advisor and will not receive any money raised. I will pay Western Union transfer fees; transfer fees will not be deducted from funds raised.
If you want to know more about me, please contact me by clicking the envelope icon next to my name. Or, I invite you to check out my LinkedIn profile here.
Excerpts from Conversations with Sadaf
"I want to make [an] organization for animals, which will be the first in Faisalabad. Raise awareness for animals love and rights."
"Today I [went] there...people threw away stones on them to force them to leave the graveyard. Some of them cry in a painful voice. One of them got hurt and bleeding start from her tail area. She left her puppies. I do not know what happened to those puppies. I asked them 'do not do this.' They replied [to] me 'you can take [them] along with you, otherwise they don't stay here.' One of them, I often send her pictures and videos to you, was trying to hide in my back. But I can't do anything. So much painful day I spent today. Can't stop my tears. Why is there so much pain in this world?"
"Heavy heart today because no found them there as I mentioned before that people threw away them from there. Will visit there tomorrow hope to find them."
"It's an aim of life to do something for sometime I think I born to do something for them [the dogs]."
"I just want to request you to people living your area or cities asked to help in this cause because here I can motivate to the people only when I will have something for them otherwise they will never bother to listen when am I thinking."
"I saw life in their eyes as they want to say we want to live a happy and safe life like your dog. [Note: Sadaf has a beloved pet dog at her home.] I have some many ideas and I think ideas only come when you are loyal of what you want to do have faith and courage to do something and more important trust on your God."
"Even I talk to the people around me I feed to the stray dogs and want to make organization to rescue dogs they say that todays no one is thinking about people you want to do for animals. I hope I could find people like me here but it'll take time I mentioned before people here might help afterwards but not stand along with me start something so I have to do by my own but I'm ready nothing is impossible."
"This one is Shalie. Always ready to welcome us. She is very loving."
"...my mission is to help the abandoned, abused, hungry stray dogs."
"My goal is to find homes for stray dogs through rescue or provide permanent sanctuary. The goal [of] my organization is sterilization is the most sound method for population control. Our organization can work to spay and neuter strays free of cost. Start campaign for the vaccination of stray dogs to reduce the rabies, so no dogs can be shot or poisoned by local authorities."
"This is a situation where they live and how they hide themselves to save them from the eyes of people. So people don't abuse them."
Shelter and Financial Update – February 2019
This is a photo of the building being used as a shelter. The building was in disrepair when Sadaf began renting it in January 2019. Thanks to your donations, she was able to get the space repaired so it is safe to house dogs who are in treatment.
The shelter repairs cost Rs 105,000, or about $750. Because of the improvements Sadaf has made to the building, the owner is removing Rs 2,000 from the monthly rent of Rs 8,000.
Fund transfers have been made to Sadaf as follows:
15 October 2018: 300 USD (Rs 37,982)
29 December 2018: 400 USD (Rs 53,847)
10 February 2019: 550 USD (Rs 73,794)
I'd stated earlier that I would be making transfers in amounts no larger than $500, but due to the building repair costs and unexpected medical costs for treating Daisy (see update #12), Sadaf needed slightly more than that. My intention remains to transfer no more than $500 at a time, but as the project grows, this will likely change, and I will indicate any changes here.
Sadaf has sent me a list of all expenses to date. Once the expense descriptions are translated from Urdu to English, I'll post the expense account here.
- Melinda Harrison
- Diane Scott
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