In security, Baghdad tackles 1 mln stray dogs

Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:19am EDT
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By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters Life!) - A new kind of death squad is roaming the streets of Baghdad, killers packing hunting rifles and poisoned meat.

Their prey: the estimated 1 million stray dogs that multiplied in the Iraqi capital as violence paralyzed public services following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

With the improvement in security over the past 2-3 years, authorities are reviving a Saddam-era practice of culling Baghdad's stray dog population.

"We could consider this the biggest campaign of dog execution ever," Baghdad chief veterinarian Mohammed al-Hilly said this week, accompanying a team of shooters.

Hilly said the campaign had so far killed 42,000 dogs since it started two months ago. More than half were poisoned.

"This can be considered a victory," he said, as the culling team laid into a pack of dogs.

In the Shula district of northwestern Baghdad, children gathered with sticks to prod the slain animals amid discarded litter. The dead dogs were loaded onto a tractor to be thrown into pits at Baghdad's refuse dumps.

Overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian war in 2006-07 that killed tens of thousands of people.   Continued...

<p>An armed member of Baghdad council squad walks past carcasses of stray dogs loaded in a cart during a culling campaign in Baghdad June 9, 2010. REUTERS/Saad Shalash</p>