BAGHDAD – Teams of veterinarians and police shooters have killed some 58,000 stray dogs in and around the Iraqi capital over the past three months as part of a campaign to curb an increasing number of strays blamed for attacks on residents.
The Baghdad provincial government said in a statement released today that 20 teams have been moving around Baghdad and the outer-lying districts daily looking for and putting down the dogs. The operation, which was first announced in late 2008, only truly took off this April after funds were allocated for the project.
The surge in strays – estimated by provincial officials to number around 1.25 million – is ironically linked to what officials say is an improvement in some elements of daily life in Baghdad, a city that for seven years has been struggling to return to normalcy after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
Officials with the provincial veterinary directorate said that with open-air markets and bustling city life returning, the dogs are able to find more food and are having bigger litters.
Officials said resident complaints have increased steadily in tandem with the rise in the stray population. In the capital, dogs have attacked children, in some cases killing them.
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