Keep pets within property parameters

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The story about President Robert Mugabe’s neighbour who was fined after his dogs went hunting at his Borrowdale mansion must send a warning to all pet owners.

Saturday Dialogue with Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

Michael Pazarangu’s dogs went  hunting at the President’s private residence in Borrowdale  and killed a buck was this week fined $50.

He was charged with letting his vicious dogs roam onto Mugabe’s property, where they killed a buck.

This is not an isolated case, but there are thousands of Zimbabweans that let their dogs stray and destroy neighbours’ gardens and sometimes I wonder why these people cannot train their dogs not to go beyond their wall/fence perimeters.

And why can’t these pet owners keep their dogs on leash all the time if they are a problematic lot?

I have also observed a very disturbing trend where dog owners abandon their pets when they decide to relocate to another country or move to other residential areas.

These dogs become a menace destroying plants in gardens as they go about hunting for food.

These dogs turn plastic garbage bins upside down leaving rubbish strewn all over.

Some man resorted to poisoning such dogs by lacing leftovers dinner with deadly rat killer poison that is sold along the streets of Harare.

This man would place a plate of bones and sadza on a metal tin laced with this poison during night times. The dogs then fall sick and eventually die within a few days. People got wind of this and nearly beat up the culprit, but he argued that he hated dogs.

“Why should dogs come into my premises and uproot seedlings for my vegetable gardens?

“They leave poop and smelly garbage from the plastic bins which my family has to clean up each morning. I will continue poisoning them,” the man said.

Why would anyone tolerate such pets especially when they leave their poop in their vegetable gardens?

Although this is cruelty to animals, this man reacted that way because he felt as though pet owners were giving a blind eye to the matter.

One woman found clothes that she had hanged to dry on a wash line lying on the muddy ground after neighbours’ dogs manoeuvred their way through a cracked panel in the security wall.

Some of the clothes were torn as these dogs tried jumping into a tree where a bird had laid eggs. The washing line lay below the tree resulting in some of the clothes having permanent stains from paint which was spattered just below the washing line.
This is what drives people to poisoning such dogs when pet owners give a deaf ear to neighbours concerns.

Killing stray dogs sometimes is not the solution because exposed garbage, which is abandoned in Harare’s open spaces, supports the stray community.

This means that removed strays are only replaced by more strays.
Due to the fact that they have high breeding rates, it’s almost impossible to control the increasing population and the spread of rabies. Within a few years, two dogs can multiply to a hundred or more.

Dog fights increase over territory and mating and then humans get bitten accidently. This causes humans to contract rabies and possibly die.  Rabies causes about 26 000 to 55 000 deaths worldwide per year, according to Wikipedia, and that more than 95% of which occur in Asia and Africa.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other warm blooded animals.

The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months; however it can vary from less than one week to more than one year. The time is dependent on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system. Early symptoms may include fever and tingling at the site of exposure.

This is then followed by violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, and fear of water or an inability to move parts of the body and confusion followed by loss of consciousness.

In both cases once symptoms appear it nearly always results in death.  One of the best things one can do to keep away stray dogs is to remove their food sources.

If you have other pets, do not leave their food bowls outside or in areas where the stray dogs can get to the pet food.

Make sure you have secured and strong fences around any chicken runs or other small animals that the stray dogs may be tempted to catch for food.

Also make sure your plastic garbage bins are in a secured place so that the dogs cannot tear to get the garbage. While you cannot solve the stray dog problem totally, you can certainly keep them off or remove them from your lawn or yard by using traps and fences.

Local veterinary clinics in Zimbabwe should be able to offer a humane trap can which are normally wire cages that consist of doors loaded with springs.

The trap is placed in your yard where the stray spends the most time with food inside as the bait. When the stray enters the cage, the door closes and traps the stray inside.  Then you can safely transport the stray to either the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Stray dogs roam streets all over the world. They may be abandoned, lost, or have been born in the wild. It is very difficult, nearly impossible to tell a lost pet from a stray dog.

After removing the stray, you can then have a fence installed or wall built around the perimeter of your yard so that his buddies don’t come back to take over the territory.