Photo: Screengrab/NRT TV
GARMIAN, Iraqi Kurdistan,— Residents and activists in the Garmian area in Iraqi Kurdistan have called on the government to rethink the methods it uses to control populations of stray animals, which usually involves killing them.
Under current law, which dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, local governments in Iraq and the Kurdistan region are authorized to cull stray animal populations either by poisoning or shooting them.
Activists and veterinarians have criticized the law as outdated, cruel, and inhumane.
Instead, they have suggested that the Kurdistan regional Government write new laws that use a “Trap, Neuter, and Release” model, similar to other countries around the world.
While stray animals, especially dogs, can make people uncomfortable and some residents have asked the government to help manage the population, the practice of killing them has caused concern.
Recently, a large number of stray dogs was killed in Kifri town, which led to local outcry.
People there told NRT TV that the dogs were shot in front of residents and children, which they thought was dangerous and traumatizing.
Activists said that there have also been recent culling campaigns in Kalar and Darbandikhan districts as well.
A member of the animal control team conceded that there were other ways of managing the population other than killing the strays.
“But it costs too much and the government cannot afford it,” he said.
The activists have said that they have given a draft of a proposed law to the Kurdistan Parliament to introduce more humane methods of animal population management and to build a proper shelter system.
Retired Kurdistan Democratic Party lawmaker Zakia Said Salih told NRT in December that similar initiatives have been proposed in the past, but have died in committee.
“Nine MPs and I signed a bill to protect animal rights, but the then-head of the agriculture committee [where it was being discussed] told us it was more of an issue for the cabinet and so it didn’t move forward and wasn’t presented in Parliament,” she told NRT.
The activists said that they hoped that the new government would take up the proposed measure.
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