A man’s best friend is the dog. So I have been made to think since I was in my teens. The uniqueness of its intelligence and a sense of loyalqty to the owner is very outstanding, so much that calling it the best of friends among domestic animals to man may not be too much an award. Shockingly, man’s inhumane attitude spills over to the dogs in their millions across the world. My new neighbor’s cruelty to his dogs in Ibadan, the largest city in West Africa is the catalyst for my writing on harsh treatments many dogs suffer across the globe. Nigeria as a developing country has no stringent laws protecting domestic animals in their millions in a country of over 180 million citizens. So, it’s not an eyesore to see stray dogs, goats, sheep, cows, hens, and what have you in many parts of low-brow areas and districts of the country. Homeless domestic animals are nothing to stare at , and their sufferings which range from malnutrition to reckless maiming and killings are virtually on daily basis.
I don’t keep a dog, neither do most of my residents do. The arrival of a new tenant in my neighborhood was announced one midnight with the bark of a very mature Alsatian dog. Several days and nights drew my attention to the reality of a new arrival in my neighborhood. A welcome development, given the fact that the presence of a dog means additional security!
However, what emotional torture does this new presence has brought to me? The feeling of pain for the best of friends to man among domestic animals – the dog.
My neighbor spanks his dog and puppies to the point which the agonizing cries could rend the hearts of the humane residents, more daily torture is in the form of starvation, lock up for days because of a stray caused by poor kennel provision, and being left in the cold on rainy nights.
I begin to feel the dog owner may be a dognapper. Why? It’s because the species of the dogs he keeps are for the high net worth citizens who majorly care for them in fenced houses located in high brow areas of the city. I happen to have my house, though impressive in size and architecture, in an area which have many low income earners, or residents whose fortunes have dwindled by the economic depression my country has been going through in recent years.
Who is a dognapper? A dognapper is a person who steals dogs of rare breeds hoping to make money off of them. An average Alsatian puppy in Nigeria starts from 10,000 Naira, and to a below-poverty line Nigerian, that’s a lot of cash.
An extended frustration of inability to feed the dogs before buyers are found could also lead to the transferred aggression meted out to the innocent dogs. Persistent torture and maltreatment will mostly lead to making the victims become wild. I’ve once heard on radio newscast a few years ago, the unfortunate incident of a Rottweiler eating the new born babe of its keeper! Such shocking incident might be as a result of starvation and torture the dog had gone through .
Dog-eating as a delicacy is another peculiar reason many dogs are endangered in my country. The ‘404 meat ‘ a local catchphrase is simply the cooked dog pepper soup meat , a delicious treat popular in the Eastern part of Nigeria and some parts of the South West. The delicacy is actually mouth- watering but unfortunately a leadway to the local dogs’ endangered species list.
The dog scout goes on a bike with wire cage tied to the carrier, scouts the countrysides and buys dogs of various maturity for the next delicious delicacy. Customers are always waiting in their hundreds across the nation to have a treat of the favorite meat. But do not frown at Nigerians for this, I learnt there is an annual dog eating festival in a part of China too. In fact it’s a big industry. Yulin Dog Meat Festival witnesses the killing of innocent and defenseless animals – the dogs. Yulin in China is thousands of kilometers away from Ibadan.
How do we help stop the torture and save these man’s best friend among domestic animals ?
It’s amazing to read author Kim Kavin’s dig into the $11 billion-a-Year Dog-selling Industry! It reveals the various pecuniary reasons for keeping dogs, among which is the Dog Fighting Contests. So, should I not be too much surprised at the harshness of my neighbour to his dogs? Knowing fully well that not all dog breeders or keepers do it for love.
Many dogs have been shot, clubbed to death, maimed, stolen, cut into two for rituals, and been exposed to harsh weather conditions leading to contracting infections, which have negative ripple effects on our society. Rabies infection is one of such.
My neighbor’s cruel attitude to his dogs has woken me up to the need to call on all humane and civil Nigerians to stand up for the protection and good care of all domestic animals. Injury to one is injury to all. Man is the keeper of the earth, the leader of all other animals in creation. Domestic animals prone to human violence is a misnomer, a need to stop and prosecute the abusers is very paramount.
The Nigerian legislature has to raise and pass bills on animal care and protection into laws, serving as a punitive measure to prospective abusers.
In the same vein, I look up to veterinary medicine practitioners and non-governmental organisations to be at the forefront of this campaign, so that our world will become a better place to live in.
No creation is a nuisance in the scheme of things, much more the dog – the universally acclaimed man’s best friend.