By Maria Famakinwa
Dogs are noted for their extreme friendliness towards humans. They crave human company and gaze intently at their human companions. The partnership between dogs and humans stretches back tens of thousands of years into prehistoric times. For centuries, dogs have been considered as man’s best friend, making it one of the first domesticated animals in history.
However, keeping dogs as pets comes with a lot of responsibilities because the dog that laughs also bites. Therefore, as friendly as dogs are, they can also be very aggressive. Incidences of dogs attacking and mauling to death their owners have questioned and continue to question the dog-human relationship. In Lagos last year October, two German shepherds guarding a Catholic Church reportedly went missing after biting a-36-year- old man, Hashiru Isah, to death outside the church premises in Abule Egba area of the state.
It was also reported that a former Zambia International, Philemon Mulala died January this year after his own pet dogs mauled him to death in South-Africa. Another pathetic story of a four-year-old boy was reported last month in Rivers State after being attacked by his father’s dog. The report has it that the dogs were released from the cage by the owner’s seven-year-old daughter for security reason while their parents were away. The dogs pounced on the two of them but the four-year-old could not survive the attack.
An engineer in his 30s, Mr Mohammed Faworaja, was another victim of dogs attack. The man who was described as the breadwinner of the family was attacked by a dog while on his way to get some items in Kwara State two weeks ago. The man was said to have been pronounced dead in the hospital due to the internal bleeding he sustained when he hit his chest on an electric pole while being chased by the loosed dog.
Given the incidents above, it is therefore, regarded as bizarre that man’s best friend for years could turn on its supposedly companion and kill that person. What could have gone wrong with the dogs that made them turn violent? What can be done to prevent avoidable deaths from dogs? What should a household consider before choosing a dog as a pet and what kind of dog should they get?
A resident of Oba-Ile Estate, Mr Olugbenga Iyiola, explained that residents in different communities could make a law within their areas to prevent dogs roaming about. He said: “ In my area, there is a standing law that any dog seen roaming about should be killed by the security. Sometime last year, three dogs found roaming about were killed by the security and the owners arrested. Replicating this law in other areas will go a long way to address dogs’ attack.
“Another thing is that those keeping dogs for security purposes should know that no matter how friendly dogs are, they still remain in the realm of animal. Stories of dogs killing owners or their relatives is sad and avoidable. The way human being reasons is quite different from that of an animal so we should be wise as regards the pets we keep,” he warned.
A veterinary Doctor, Mr Makinde Olotu, described the act of dogs attacking owners as mental health challenge and urged dog owners to always be vigilant and report any strange behaviour they notice in their dogs to veterinary doctors immediately.
Dr Olotu who commended the efforts of Ondo State government at sensitizing dog’s owners revealed that the State government recently took dogs vaccination to the interior parts of the state where dogs were vaccinated freely against rabies and owners further educated on the need to vaccinate their dogs annually and keep them off the streets for people’s safety.
On how to curb dogs attack, Dr Olotu said”Let your dogs socialise with people in your house, get them vaccinated yearly against rabies, study your dogs for any behavioural change and report to veterinary doctors immediately, keep your dogs in a cage within the confine of your compound instead of roaming the neighborhood to prevent them attacking people.”
Another veterinary Doctor, Desmond Ezekiel, advised that dog owners should always consult veterinary doctors when they notice unusual behaviour in their dogs. He said: “People should never leave their dogs unsupervised, especially when children are around as animals cannot be trusted completely. As a dog trainer and handler, when the dog is eating a bone and you cannot retrieve that bone from the dog’s mouth, then you don’t need to keep such a dog. Your dogs are supposed to be well trained so that they can be under your full control.
“While the dog is in the house, you as the owner must ensure that you are in charge. You must reject every attempt by your dog to rebel against you or dominate you. For instance, you are trying to give your dog food and it rejects the food and starts barking; you don’t take that from the dog, it’s trying to challenge you. Sometimes, people do not have in-depth knowledge of the breeds of dogs before acquiring such dogs.Many times dog owners mistreat and abuse their dogs all in the name of training the dog, which causes the dog to react in defence. All these must be looked into by dog owners to prevent attacks,” he said.