News / Africa

West Africa Fights Dog Overpopulation

A dog sits on the steps of a door into the compound of a traditional colonial-era Board House dating back about a century in the Murray Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.
A dog sits on the steps of a door into the compound of a traditional colonial-era Board House dating back about a century in the Murray Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.
One of Sierra's Leone's five veterinarians wants to share his views at the first international conference on dog population management this week in Britain. The West Africa region has a massive overpopulation of dogs, but its representative to the conference may not be able to attend.

They say dogs are man's best friend, but here at a Freetown animal clinic Doctor Gudosh Jalloh is struggling just to keep them alive.

Some dogs do not make it to his clinic.  "There are so many people killing dogs, because of rabies," said the vet.

Rabies is a huge problem in West Africa, but Dr. Jalloh says killing is not the answer, vaccination is.   

One of the topics being discussed at the conference in Britain is how to control rabies among huge dog populations, but Dr. Jalloh says he may not be able to attend because his visa did not arrive in time.  He was supposed to represent West Africa at the meeting.  

He says it a frustrating situation because he may miss out on an opportunity to share and exchange ideas with others from around the world.

"They would have loved to listen to what I am telling them, and with the gaps how we are managing to solve this problem," said Dr. Jalloh.

According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Sierra Leone has one of the largest stray dog populations in Africa, about 100,000.   Dr. Jalloh and his staff have sterilized 19,000 dogs since 2005, which has helped to decrease the population, but more needs to be done he says.

It is an issue the Sierra Leone government says it is also trying to deal with.  

Ministry of Agriculture Assistant Director for Animal Health, Doctor Mohamed Barrie, says stray dogs are a consistent problem.

He says many dogs end up on the street when owners do not want them anymore.  There, they multiply, which is one factor that leads to overpopulation.  

Dr. Barrie says the government is looking at revising the animal disease act and wants stricter fines for people abusing or neglecting a dog.  

"We were working on 1945 legislation, but just last year revised, now we have sent to law office department for vetting,from there it will go to parliament," he said.

He adds the conference in Britain is relevant for African countries because what happens to dogs can affect people, such as contracting tape worm.

"By licking your hand or skin, if a dog is infected, the egg will hatch, go into the skin and then larvae will hatch and can cause serious problem in human," said Dr. Barrie.

But getting humans to care in Sierra Leone does have challenges, says Dr. Jalloh.  Often neglected dogs and puppies are just dumped at his clinic.  

He says he realizes in a country where so many are living in poverty, dogs are not a priority, but he is starting to see attitudes are slowly changing.  

"We have got people now paying, the little income they get they pay to treat animals," said Dr. Jalloh.

Even with people spending more, the clinic is barely making ends meet.  Vaccinations used to be free, but there is no funding to make that happen anymore.

Dr. Jalloh says another good reason to attend the conference would be the opportunity to network with possible donors. "The funds are not there, we do not have [enough for] medicine cost, we do not have the staff," he said.

His staff members make only about $100 a month.  Despite the low pay, vet technician Teddy Mannah says he loves his job.  

"I think I am satisfied to lie on my bed and ask myself what have I done today?   I have rescued one or two dogs, helped reduce pain and stress from dogs, that makes me happy.  Actually it is not just about going to the bank or working somewhere fully  air conditioned, but conscience.  I am happy, I am not going to get rich working here, but my contribution makes me feel I am rich."

Dr. Jalloh says the key to dealing with so many dogs is mainly more education for owners to get dogs neutered and vaccinated, so the problem can continue to decrease and dogs can live decent lives among humans.  He says he will continue to advocate for the dogs of Sierra Leone.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid