Highlighting their concerns over incidents of animal cruelty and absence of any state initiatives for animal welfare in decades, speakers at a seminar held on Wednesday shared that animals suffered a lot more than humans in this year's devastating floods and much of their ordeal still remained undocumented.

The event โ€” Floods 2022 and Animal Welfare in Pakistan โ€” was jointly organised by the provincial livestock and fisheries department and Brooke Pakistan, an international non-profit organisation working since 1991 for the welfare of equine animals belonging to the poor.

Citing official and international data, the speakers stated that the loss of livestock alone had been estimated to be over 1.1 million in the devastating floods, which had the greatest impact on Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.

"Floods impacted 14 districts where our organisation is working, affecting 657 equine animal-owning and using communities," Dr Javed Iqbal Gondal representing Brooke Pakistan told the audience, while giving a presentation on the NGO's relief operation.

About the challenges faced during the relief work, he said accessibility to vulnerable communities, according to him, wasn't easy.

"There was social unrest, damaged road networks while homeless people were found sitting on roadsides, resulting in long traffic queues. Contaminated water, swarms of flies and mosquitoes posed risk to both humans and animals, also facing acute food shortage."

Sharing his observations, Dr Sher Nawaz said animal sufferings were so grave that they couldn't even be compared with what humans had to endure.

"We saw thin, frail animals inflicted with sorts of diseases due to starvation, thirst, malnutrition as their bodies remained exposed to water for a long time."

According to him, a large number of animals lost their lives just because they couldn't be evacuated at the right time.

"Our boats can only rescue humans. It's time that we make the subject of animal welfare part of our education curricula, planning and development agendas as well as disaster strategies."

During the relief operation, the organisation provided first aid and emergency treatment to 30,000 animals and handed over 10,000 bags of green and dry fodder for equines and livestock and 6,000 human dry ration bags to members of animal-owning communities.

Director General-Livestock Dr Nazir Kalhoro spoke about government measures during the floods which, he said, killed around 436,435 animals in Sindh.

"The government will be revising the animal cruelty act soon. Besides, we are in talks with the World Bank to establish animal facilities where they could be admitted and treated," he said.

Livestock secretary Tamizzudin Khero regretted that official apathy towards animal welfare and said the society had been "brutalised" over the decades.

"The elites left by the British rule us. Why would they make citizen and animal-friendly laws and spend on the common man as this puts their families' future at stake," he observed, adding that little hope existed as political parties gave tickets to influential persons.

The speakers during the course of panel discussions called for private-public partnerships, particularly during disaster situations, revision of animal cruelty laws and their effective implementation.

The programme concluded with distribution of shields to speakers.