200 stray dogs poisoned in a week in Shingal (Sinjar)

Ninewa, January 2021: A number of street dogs in the center of the Sinuny sub-district of Shingal district. KirkukNow

By Ammar Aziz in Ninawa

Last week, a campaign was launched in Shingal district to eradicate stray dogs, which resulted in the poisoning of 200 stray dogs, according to several sources, who confirmed that the campaign was carried out by "government departments".

The residents of Shingal district, 120 km west of Mosul, center of Ninewa province on the border with Syria, have been suffering for two years from the increase in the number of stray dogs and their continuous whelping, considering them a threat to their lives and that the only solution before the government is to eliminate them by poisoning them.

Hussein Saeed, a civil activist in Shingal district, said, "Last week, the police and municipality carried out a campaign to get rid of at least 200 stray dogs by giving them poisoned meat, but this is a bad way to ease the citizens' protests and their fears of an increase in the number of stray dogs, in Shingal and the surrounding areas.”

The campaign to eradicate dogs came at the request of a number of residents of the area who visited the municipality and the police, demanding a solution to this problem, according to activist Hussein Saeed.

A security source in the Shingal district center - who refused to reveal his name saying he is not authorized to speak to the media, said, "These dogs were exterminated at the request of the people after their numbers increased. The decision to get rid of them was not made by the police and the municipality only, but most government departments in Shingal have agreed to the decision.”

The decision to get rid of them was not made by the police and the municipality only, but most government departments in Shingal have agreed to the decision

Regarding the number of dogs that were poisoned, the source said that about 200 dogs were killed. Last week's campaign to kill stray dogs is the third in the past three years.

In 2021, about 40 street dogs were poisoned in one day, and in 2020, 50 dogs were poisoned, which angered civil activists in the area.

The issue of street dogs is not a challenge for Shingal residents only. Kirkuk team has slaughtered about 550 street dogs being shot by live bullets by policemen in three weeks last June, figures by the mayor office said.

Over 3,000 dogs were shot dead by bullets in 2017 and 2018 campaigns in Kirkuk.

Some reports prove that dog bites might lead to serious illnesses like cysts that might cause death.

Advocates of street animals argue that all religions ban slaughter of animals and education programs teaches children for mercy towards animals especially the homeless.

Khudida Chuki, mayor of Sinuny, said, "The number of stray dogs has increased dramatically. Last year, we eliminated a number of it, but we were subjected to criticism, so this year the district administration distanced itself from killing any stray dog."

“We asked the concerned authorities to solve the problem of stray dogs in another way, but to no avail,” Chuki added. “I do not say that the solution is to kill them, but it is also not reasonable to let dogs attack people, harm them and pose a threat to their lives... The government can allocate a shelter for these dogs.”

That was the same proposal put forward by the local administration of the region to the administration of Ninewa Governorate during the past two years.

Shingal, January 2021: Street dogs near one of the traffic intersections in the center of Sinuny. KirkukNow

Khalaf Haider, director of the Veterinary Division in the Sinuni district, told KirkukNow, "There is no special place in Ninewa province to house stray dogs, and this is a big problem, not only for Shingal district, but for the whole of province."

Haidar stressed that the General Directorate of Nineveh Veterinary Affairs has sent a request to the administration of Nineveh in this regard, but no decision has been issued so far.

KirkukNow tried to obtain statements from the two deputy governors of Ninewa during the past two days, but without result.

There is no special place in Ninewa province to house stray dogs

According to an unofficial statistic of the Shingal district administration, there are more than a thousand stray dogs in the district center and its affiliated sub-districts, scattered in the streets and alleys.

Over the past two years, at least 10 people have sustained injuries from being attacked by stray dogs, as well as damage to poultry.

Barakat Issa, a government employee in Shingal, said, "Our children are terrified and women cannot go out, especially at night."

"Most of these dogs come from villages that have been depopulated in the past years...If the government does not allocate a shelter, then the only solution is to eliminate them," he continued.

"I have two solutions, either get rid of it, or allocate a place to house it," Ali said while the civic activist Saeed recommends a shelter to house these dogs instead of poisoning it to death.

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