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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora