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Paws For Thought!!

It’s a dogs life – plight of the ‘street dogs’- hope for a better life I have learnt from my time in Africa that all visitors are concerned with the threat to the wildlife and rightly so but I do not think that many people know of the threat to such animals as the ‘street dogs’ as I call them. This is because most people do not come across them on their travels. I would like to take this opportunity to speak on their behalf. These dogs are very rarely seen in daylight, they stay quiet and hide because they fear people. They move about at night when it is dark and the streets are empty because it is safe. They may move about in packs and fights are common when one pack of dogs comes into contact with another pack or a dog on its own. The bitches are continually breeding, one litter of pups after another, this not good for the bitch or the pups. They live off the rubbish tips. They do not know what it is to be cared for and shown affection. They fear people because of beatings and stones thrown, this, on the part of the people is through fear of rabies and being eaten. I can understand the fear the people have, you only have to look back to the recent past history in this area to understand. When the genocide was going on in Rwanda much of it was felt in Kisoro being close to the border. The street dogs fed on the dead bodies that littered Rwanda at this time, some dogs fled the crisis but others that stayed to scavenge had to be shot. The killings that occurred in Uganda under Idi Amin’s regime had the same result, street dogs would feed on the dead. So you can really understand why the people have such a fear. The problem is people fear dogs and dogs fear people. Many dogs in the district of Kisoro are stolen, kidnapped, taken to the Congo to be sold and killed for meat or used for hunting. When a dog has been taught how to hunt they can never be rehabilitated and the only way to stop them hunting is to shoot them. I have seen that with the correct care these dogs can be playful, protective towards their owners, good companions and enjoy a happy life. The people need to be educated about dogs, the care they need, the suffering they endure, all because of ignorance. The people are also suffering because of their ignorance and with the right approach to this problem they need not fear anymore. Both the people and the dogs can benefit. It is great news that we now have a rabies vaccination programme in place in our part of Uganda but much more needs to be done. There needs to be a spaying programme for the bitches. We need to get more dogs off the streets. Re-homing works well. The dogs on the streets NEED A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE. I hope to be able to provide such a place with your help. I will be putting in place a programme to educate the people and children. I have seen first hand that attitudes can change when the people are shown how to care for the animals properly and when they see the difference that this care makes to the animals their attitude certainly changes for the better. They enjoy the company that dogs can give and play with them and show concern for their well being. The locals know my dog Mboney so well now and everyone greets him and he greets them. They ask after him and the children play with him. He is a great hit with all the passing tourists. The teachers at the schools where I teach want him to visit to meet the pupils and so he can teach them how to care for his kind and to not live in fear. This is why the rabies vaccination programme is so important, it is one less thing for the people to worry about and if we can get the dogs off the streets that would be even better for both the people and the dogs. There is another reason why the vaccination programme against rabies is so important. It will also protect the wildlife from contracting the deadly disease and the farmers’ live stocks that are so important to the economy in this rural community. I think we can really make a difference with the right approach and there are solutions to these problems which with help from you and the local community together we can make a difference and take away the peoples’ fears and give the dogs a better quality of life and all have a brighter future living together in harmony. Sandra E. Gray Project manager

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