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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs