KHORUGH, Tajikistan -- Authorities in Khorugh, the administrative capital of Tajikistan's eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, are at a loss as to how to rid the city of its stray dogs, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Some 78 of the animals have been exterminated in recent months, with Mayor Mulkamon Nazaraliev setting an example by killing five.
But both Nazaraliev and Communal Services official Yorabshoh Arabshoev have expressed frustration that it is difficult to recruit dog hunters, who are paid around $2 per canine.
Arabshoev told RFE/RL that several young dog hunters have died in recent years of mysterious illnesses that some people believe were divine punishment. For that reason, he said, people are reluctant to accept employment as dog hunters. Arabshoev said the previous city police administration also refused to round up and kill dogs as they did not want to look like "angels of death." The new city police chief is considering making his men available for that task.
Arabshoev added that his department couldn't give weapons to people who had no special training. He noted that recently they hired a hunter from the eastern Murghab district, but he quit after killing seven dogs. Another hunter from Ishkoshim fled after killing 15 dogs.
Khorugh deputy city administration head Abdullo Khudoiberdiev said that as a humanitarian act they rounded up several dogs, transported them to remote villages, and released them there but that the canines found their way back to Khorugh.
Local journalist Humoyun Samimi said RFE/RL that the authorities' failure to clear garbage regularly from the city streets provides the dogs with a permanent source of food, which is why they remain in the city.
Khorugh health center head Zebi Inoyatova told RFE/RL that at least five people have been hospitalized recently after being bitten by stray dogs. The Khorugh administration hopes to compile a register of the city's dog population in order to determine how many dogs are strays.