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Karachi Dog Cull Sparks Anger

Pakistani commuters drive past a pile of dog carcasses on the road side in Karachi on May 12.
Pakistani commuters drive past a pile of dog carcasses on the road side in Karachi on May 12.

The killing of hundreds of stray dogs in a government-organized cull in Karachi, Pakistan, is meeting with fury as images spread through social media.

Photos showing scores of dead dogs lined up along roads have led to protests from animal-rights groups and a storm of criticism of city authorities.

Officials quoted by Spain's Cadena SER say the cull is necessary because many of the animals have rabies, a virally borne disease that kills tens of thousands of people worldwide every year.

Pakistani authorities say around 150,000 people in Karachi were bitten by dogs in the past year and some 15-20 percent of them contracted rabies.

Karachi is Pakistan's largest city, with a population of more than 23 million people.

But animal-rights groups say the cull -- in which dogs are usually poisoned -- is inhumane. They argue that rabies can be reduced by vaccinating the canines and the large stray-dog population controlled through sterilization.

Karachi officials say such measures are too costly.

Twitter users expressed alarm at the dog killings, with some arguing that Pakistan's questionable record on human rights suggests there's not much hope for the humane treatment of animals.

Others have defended the government's actions, pointing to the high cost of a campaign to sterilize and vaccinate dogs in Karachi and the enormity of the city's stray canine population.

But the problem of large packs of stray dogs roaming cities and biting residents is an international problem, and government officials have been criticized for their methods of culling dogs in such countries as Romania, Tajikistan, Ukraine ahead of the 2012 European soccer championship, and several Russian cities, including Winter Olympic host Sochi in 2014.

-- Pete Baumgartner

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