CrimeWorld Editorial Board
DOGS by their nature are man’s friendliest domestic Pets and if well groomed, they remain adorably loyal, devoted and could be dependable security guards. In some rural areas, dogs are known to be good hunting partners with their owners in the forest. However, like every other mortal, dogs could turn dodgy and momentarily wild if not kindly tended. This overturn trait of dogs is more often than not, bestial as has recently become the lot of some Nigerians especially, residents of Lagos State and their children.
Incidence of dog attacks and the resultant death from rabies related disease have assumed a worrisome dimension in the state. Sad enough, the relevant authorities under which purview it is to monitor animal breed, especially in residential areas and wield the big stick against erring breeders have shown visible lax in implementing the extant laws. In the last three years to be precise, findings reveals that Lagos which harbours about 2.5million dogs has recorded six cases of ferocious attacks from dogs; resulting in three deaths and leaving several others with multiple injuries. In August 2014, a 21 -year old Aishat Opakunle girl and 14 year-old James Makwa Musa, both of Mologede Estate Meiran, were ferociously attacked by the same dog and died shortly after exhibiting rabies related signs. In the same vein, a 45-year old commercial driver identified as Saturday Akpomose was aggressively attacked by seven dogs in Ajah area of Lagos when he went visiting his relatives. Whereas, he survived, five year-old Jomiloju Odukomaya who was attacked by a neighbour’s dog sometime in August last year couldn’t stand the pains as he died albeit showing clinical signs of rabies. Reports say the suspected rabid dog belongs to one Mr. Rufus Olaniyan of Olaniyan Estate, Irawo, Ajegunle in Ikorodu area of the state. In February 2015, nine year-old Moyinoluwa Banwo, was wrestled down by another neighbour’s dog in Ibafo, Ogun State and had one of his limbs almost chopped off. Perhaps a more agonizing attack from these fair-weather friends was that which happened in Igando area of Lagos last year where another 5-year old Odion had more than half of his scalp severed by two visibly hungry Alsatian dogs. Though he may have survived the attack; the scars on the scalp of this hapless boy will forever remain an ugly sight to behold.
As this trend gets more increasingly agonizing and unchecked, one is miffed at the attitude of the relevant authorities that should regulate the breeding and keeping of dogs in Lagos State, ditto for the state chapter of Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association NVMA which have seemingly not been alive to its responsibility. A UN report has put death toll arising from dog bites to about 59, 000 annually, out of which 99.9 percent death possibly occur from rabies mainly in poverty stricken Africa and the Asian region of the world which has little or no access to good medical facilities. Incidentally, rabies can be adequately controlled and even eradicated with the right education especially, when the relevant authorities are ready to do the needful. It is more dangerous to live with a rabid dog than a venomous snake because the affected dog is fierce and ferocious and can attack any object including human on sight.
We are uncomfortable with the revelation that it is only a few tertiary institutions in the country and the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Jos that can perform a forensic analysis to establish a case of rabid in dog hence victims of dog bite die before they could get attention from a specialist hospital. This was confirmed by the Lagos State Chairman of NVMA, Dr. Alao Mobalaji. This being the case, we call on our legislators to resurrect the Guard Dogs Act of 1975 which regulates keeping of guard dogs as the case may be. This Act prohibits the keeping of Dogs in residential areas or premises unless there is a capable person (handler) to control the dog and the dog must always be at the control of the handler. This Act equally provides for the use of guard dogs with a warning “Beware of Dogs” conspicuously hanged on the gate of such residential building. Anything contrary to these amounts to a criminal offence and it is punishable by a fine upon conviction. To be on the safe side therefore, we strongly advise parents to educate their children on the need to be wary of dogs, especially attempting to taunt a strange dog. No doubt, children more often than not are excited at the sight of a dog but a good education on time can restrain this. Visitors should insist dog owners or handlers have their dogs firmly fettered or caged before entering their compound. It is imperative that every dog owner should do a periodic vaccination of its pets at least once a year with veterinary doctors; while those who do not have the financial muzzles to keep and maintain dogs should completely avoid such venture. Keeping dogs is expensive and a rabid dog is both dangerous to children and adults alike.
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