He confirmed that the increase in street dogs with no proper care is a cause for concern, and that they are at risk of contracting rabies, which was why the Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society (SLAWS) in partnership with International Animal Welfare Organisations, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Freetown City Council launched a committee to raise enough funds for the campaign which will start in September all around the country, and free rabies vaccine will be administered to all domestic animals with dogs being top priority.
This campaign he emphasised will run for two days, September 28th-29th, where pet owners are expected to take their dogs or cats to designated areas where animal care givers will administer vaccination to protect them from rabies.
Also he advised that any member of the public who suffers bite from a suspected rabid animal, should seek medical attention immediately at the nearest health facility, but must first wash the affected area with soap and water.
Questioned on why there is no established public veterinary service in the country, Dr Jalloh smiled and replied that he has been a strong advocate for years for Government to re-establish veterinary services around the country like it used to be before when pet owners will take their domestic animals for special care, which is a basic right for animals to be well cared for.
He said up to date it is only SLAWS that provides veterinary services in the country, and as a result other parts around the country are missing out on pet care, and this is also the cause for the increase in stray dogs and cats, because pet owners have nowhere to take their pets for proper care, and in the event they get sick or infected and in need of care, there is nowhere to turn to, these poor animals, who are man’s best friend are forced to learn how to live with harsh conditions on the streets, by some unsympathetic pet owners.
Dr Gudus Jalloh furthered that in a bid to survive the harsh conditions both in the rains and dry season, some of these animals grow wild and behave in a beast like manner in order to stay alive with scraps of spoilt food from garbage bins and dump sites, and this is unacceptable in accordance to the animal welfare legislation, and this is the time most of them contract rabies from the unhygienic conditions of dump sites.
The veterinary specialist called on the Government and other partners involved in animal welfare and protection to create an environment that will be more conducive for domestic animals to live humanely and receive the care that they deserve, and enforce laws that will punish some pet owners who are insensitive to the welfare and protection of animals.