In a rare move to ensure animal rights in Pakistan, the government on Thursday banned testing and surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in the federal capital while announcing Rs 15,000 ($73) fine and jail term for animal cruelty offenders.
The decision came only a few weeks after people expressed their outrage after discovering that veterinary schools were using live animals, including dogs, cats, and rabbits, to teach students how to perform incisions and stitching.
“Live testing of animals in vet colleges and industrial complexes is banned from today in Islamabad Capital Territory,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit Head Salman Sufi.
In order to effect the change, he said the government was amending legislation from the British era. He added that a notification had already been issued in this regard for the Islamabad region to safeguard animal welfare.
The reform follows a month of nationwide demonstrations against animal mistreatment in Pakistan and appeals from other nations to do the same, notably at veterinary colleges and pet marketplaces.
The key points of the new Animal Rights law are:
- Islamabad has outlawed live animal experiments as of today, June 30, 2022.
- No veterinary college or industrial complex will conduct live animal testing.
- A hotline has been established to report cases of animal and pet abuse.
- Cruelty to animals and pets will incur fines of between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 15,000 as well as a jail sentence.
- Standard operating procedures (SOP) are being announced in this regard as well as regulations governing pet markets.
- A fine and the closure of the pet store are the consequences of breaking the pet market SOPs.
The revolutionary animal welfare action by Pakistan government was taken in response to public indignation over social media videos showing local veterinary students operating on sick puppies they had allegedly seized from the streets.
Three universities were under criticism in social media platforms, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi; Riphah College of Veterinary Sciences in Lahore; and COMSATS University in Lahore—and people wants them to use accurate simulation models.
Sufi previously provided assurances that the Prime Minister is “an animal lover and has taken stern notice of animal welfare issues” and that the Strategic Reform Implementation Unit was “working on a broad spectrum of initiatives for animal welfare and protection,” in consultation with all the concerned stakeholders.
Sufi noted that the government would also push the provinces to implement it in their own areas, calling it “Pakistan’s first comprehensive animal welfare law.”
The head of the PM’s strategic reforms section highlighted that a uniform set of regulations for pet marketplaces across the nation were also going to be released, adding that offenders would be penalized and their businesses might be shut down.