By Babatunde Ayedoju
A dog is known to be one of man’s closest friends, after all very few animals share with man the kind of bond that a dog enjoys. A dog is such a wonderful companion of man that in any compound it is reared, both old and young play with it.
Apart from companionship, dogs also provide security. That is why instead of spending huge amounts of money to hire security guards who may not be faithful, some individuals will simply get a dog. That way, the dog queries every stranger it sees in the owner’s compound by barking.
Because of its strong sense of smell, a dog also proves to be useful to some law enforcement agents when they are looking for criminals. Likewise, hunters are also known to sometimes take dogs along when going to hunt as dogs prove to be worthy companions and assistants to them.
Unfortunately, dogs are not always as nice as man expects them to be, as they also tend to become threats to people around them, including their owners. For example, in August, a nursing mother, Nafisat Muhideen, was attacked by two dogs at Zone E, Unity Estate, Halleluyah Area, Ido-Osun, Osun State. The dogs mauled her five month old baby, Mariam, to death in the process.
The nursing mother was said to be on her way to a medicine shop to buy drugs for Mariam who was battling with catarrh when the unfortunate incident occurred. She told newsmen that the dogs jumped at her from behind and snatched the baby from her back. According to her, all efforts she made in conjunction with some neighbours to rescue the five month old baby from the ferocious dogs proved abortive.
In July, a toddler said to be about two years and five months old was attacked and killed by two dogs belonging to his family in Umuotube, Chikota Community, Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State. The sad incident which went viral was said to have occurred when the seven year old sister of the deceased set the dogs loose to feed them. Immediately, the dogs attacked the toddler. All attempts made by neighbours to rescue the victim were futile.
According to the father of the deceased who was said to have gone to work when the incident occurred, those two dogs were later killed with lethal injections.
That same month, an engineer believed to be in his 30s, Mohammed Faworaja, also lost his life in Ilorin, Kwara State, courtesy of a dog identified to be a German breed. According to media reports, Faworaja, while returning from a supermarket, was chased by the dog and as he sought to escape he hit his chest on an electric pole. Though the victim was rushed to a hospital, he reportedly died of internal bleeding.
Back in 2017, a 45 year old commercial driver, Saturday Akpomose, was said to have been attacked by seven dogs when he visited a relative in Ajah, Lagos State. Though Mr Akpomose survived the attack, he was left with multiple injuries.
There are even instances of victims of dog attack dying of rabies because the dog that bit them was already rabid at the time of the attack. Such was the case of five year old Jomiloju Odukomaya who died in 2016 after suffering from dog bite in Ikorodu, Lagos State. According to the mother of the boy, Mrs. Patience Odukomaya, the victim had become stable after he was treated at the hospital, only for him to take ill after two weeks, showing signs of rabies before he finally died.
Earlier in 2014, 21 year old Aishat Opakunle and 14 year old James Makwa Musa, both of Mologede Estate, Meiran in lagos were bitten by a dog and died after showing signs of rabies.
Talking about why dogs sometimes become dangerous, Dr Ilesanmi Aiyedoju, a veterinarian, cited poor treatment of the dog by the owners which comes in form of hunger and keeping the dog in chains for too long, that is for several months or years.
In the words of the veterinarian, the natural tendency of a dog is to be friendly with the owner and other familiar faces, while strangers are regarded as potential enemies. However, a dog that is not well catered for will become hostile to everyone, including the owner because “a hungry dog is not anyone’s friend.”
Aiyedoju also blamed violence of dogs on diseases, one of which is rabies. According to him, while rabies can turn a friendly dog to an enemy, the easiest warning sign of rabies to look out for among several others is when a playful, friendly dog suddenly becomes withdrawn, isolating itself, and vice versa.
He further classified dog bites into provoked and unprovoked, explaining that a provoked bite can happen when a visitor enters the dog’s cage uninvited or the dog is eating and someone tries to take the food away.
His words: “If it’s a provoked bite, wash the bite wound with soap or detergent under running water to wash the saliva away, then proceed to treat the wound while you quarantine the dog for about 14 days.”
While stating that unprovoked bite happens when the dog suddenly attacks someone who has not shown any form of hostility towards it, the veterinarian said such a case raises concern about rabies. He recommended that the victim be taken to the hospital for post exposure treatment immediately after washing the wound, adding that the dog would still have to be quarantined for 14 days.
“If the dog is rabid, the signs will show up within those 14 days and if it’s confirmed the dog is rabid, it should be killed,” he said.
Dr Daniel Ikuomola from the Department of Criminology and Security Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko opined that dogs could become dangerous because of their genetic makeup, adding that it is mostly foreign breeds that tend to be aggressive unlike the local ones that are known to be friendly. He also blamed dog owners who do not take time to acquire adequate information about the dogs they are rearing and every behaviour that those dogs are capable of exhibiting.
While insisting that a dog will be less dangerous if it is well trained and catered for, Ikuomola advised that dogs be well kept and caged. He also advised that dog owners should get sufficient information, if necessary from veterinarians, about their pets because some dogs ought to be disposed of after a certain number of years.
Likewise, he said that when a member of a family owns a dog, every other member of the family should join hands to take care of the dog, so that it would feel comfortable in their midst.
Similarly, Dr Mrs. Kemi Adebola, a sociologist from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), attributed violent traits in dogs to crossbreeding, adding that sometimes a dog, especially security dog, is crossbred with a fox or wolf, a fact that the appearance of such dogs attests to.
While insisting that natural dogs are friendly, Adebola disclosed that once the trait of the other animal begins to manifest in the dog, it would become aggressive towards even the owner. Therefore, she advised that dog owners should be careful with the breed they purchase.