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Calls made for responsible dog ownership, as dog bite cases increase

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

DOG owners have been urged to be more responsible after a recent report revealed an increase in dog bites across the country, with more than 500 dog bites being recorded in a week.

A recent Disease Surveillance Report from the Ministry of Health and Child Care has revealed a worrying trend after 525 cases of dog bites were reported in just a week across the country.

According to an animal inspector with the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA), Mr Kudzanai Chatikobo highlights the need for responsible dog ownership.

“With dog bites, you need to track what might be the causes of each case, usually its lack of what we call responsible ownership. Every dog owner must be aware that every dog needs to be vaccinated. We have five freedoms of an animal, every animal must have the freedom to access treatment when it is sick and to be vaccinated so it’s a must in Zimbabwe we do have several statutes and laws that support that, so it’s not allowed to keep an unvaccinated dog. Whenever people are acquiring dogs, they need to know about the dogs they intend to buy or maybe adopt, so in our case here we call it rehoming. So, whenever someone wants to own a dog, you must make sure that you have relevant knowledge about the breed that you want to adopt.

These days we do have a rise in cases of boar dogs and pit bulls biting people so every dog is not meant to be aggressive or a biter or vicious it’s all more about upkeep the way you take care of your dog so dogs need to be socialised they need the freedom to express normal behaviour they need freedom from discomfort freedom from pain and negative training methods are not recommended where dogs are trained to fight it is not recommended and using cruel methods of training that cause aggression and the increases in the cases of dog bites.

We do have what we call the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it’s an act whereby dogs are not allowed to be confined or to be kept in an environment where they are not allowed to socialise with people for a long time. For example, we do have some dogs being kept for breeding in backyards in small kennels for a long time so obviously the cruel way the dog is being kept in the same way the dogs will respond to us as well because he is not used to people or normal handling so obviously this contributes to aggression and negative behaviours of animals that we keep,” he said.

The report reveals that 131 of the people were bitten by vaccinated dogs, 190 by unvaccinated dogs, and 204 by dogs of unknown status.

He added, “You need to get your dogs vaccinated. I don’t see a reason why people are not vaccinating their dogs. surprisingly, it costs less than US$2 and is free at some facilities. Rabies is a very dangerous zoonotic disease, and it can be spread from canines to human beings.”

While rabies is a near-certain concern once symptoms develop, it is entirely preventable through vaccination and prompt medical attention after potential exposure, hence the importance of responsible pet ownership, including regular vaccinations for dogs, cats, and other mammals

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