Dog live matters: Rubaiya Ahmad


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Dog live matters: Rubaiya Ahmad

I would feel honoured if I were able to save a single live. The efforts and activism of Rubaiya Ahmad saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dhaka’s stray dogs. I met her a decade ago when Rubaiya, fresh from her return from the US, launched a campaign to stop culling of Dhaka’s canine population.
For more than six decades the city authorities considered stray dogs a big public nuisance and each year they would kill some 20,000 of them to control their population. But instead of helping fight rabies, this large-scale culling – – a whole special interest industry grew up to kill dogs – – was only worsening the problem as new and un-vaccinated dogs would fill up the void.
The campaign to stop culling began when the city’s culling squad killed one of the strays that Rubaiya adopted. She chased the killer truck and get it halted by throwing herself under its wheels (according to the late chief veterinary officer of the then DCC. Rubaiya however denies that account). She buried her beloved pet and vowed to stop this inhumane practice.
Five years later dog culling has been stopped once for all with the high court delivering a landmark verdict calling it illegal and city authorities agreeing to the WHO prescription that vaccination is the best way to fight rabies and keep Dhaka’s dog population under control. Nine years later her efforts and activism also helped enact another milestone: The Animal Welfare Act, 2019 — the country’s first. In the meantime she has also set up Bangladesh’s largest animal welfare non-profit.
On Wednesday she was back on the streets and outside the Nagar Bhaban again to protest Dhaka South City Corporation’s move to relocate tens of thousands of stray dogs to the outskirts of the city. Experts said the relocation is illegal and would lead to starvation and deaths of these dogs. More than a hundred protesters were there defying fears over Covid 19 pandemic. Rubaiya hasn’t lost a single battle for city’s dogs yet. And I am sure she won’t fail this time.


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