By David Oduut
MBALE. Authorities in Mbale District last week responded to public complaints that stray dogs had become too much of a nuisance in the nights by poisoning hundreds of the canines.
In the recent months, residents of Mbale town have endured noisy nights as dogs howled ceaselessly, presumably, during their ‘mating season’ (heat cycle). The stray dogs are said to have been growing in number and when the heat cycle approached, residents have had to bear the brunt of their irritating whimpers and howling.
The residents pushed authorities to give in to a mass poisoning exercise.
“Sometimes you would imagine that rebels are in the area as dogs could start barking from all corners of the town,” James Masaba, a resident of Namatala ward, said.
Masaba said nights of endless disturbed sleep was finally settled, last week, when municipal authorities poisoned more that 70 dogs that used to loiter in his area.
Lawrence Okello, who owned a dog and also resident of Namatala, said that much as he would mourn the death of his dog, “I can finally sleep, it used to attract noise when his ‘friends’ would come and pick him up, or when others [dogs] try to come to his home.”
Roseline Namutosi, a resident of Nkoma ward, also shares the burden of not having proper sleep due to the noise made by dogs in the night.
She said with the cases of house break-ins being rife in Mbale town, it has been difficult for her to get peaceful sleep, especially with dogs barking in the neighbourhood.
“You can think like it is volunteering to help save your property, but in most times you find them [dogs] ending up in a growling fight for either a female or simply a bone,” Namutosi said.
The 26-year-old, who works in a restaurant along North road, said her daughter was recently bitten by a youthful dog. Although the little girl was diagnosed safe from any dog-related disease, the single mother said killing stray dogs is the only solution to preventing disease outbreak.
Where do stray dogs come from?
Bakar Nabende, information and research chairperson at Mbale main market, said the dogs are mostly tamed by street kids to help alert them of police patrol.
“The challenge is that street kids cannot afford to feed these dogs,” Nabende sai,d adding that the dogs are also not immunized posing a threat to diseases like rabies.
However, a leader of street kids who only identified himself as Fiswal, said dogs play an important part in street life as they help alert them of danger.
“To live on street, you have to be alert all the time; so these dogs are our alarm bells when an intruder or attacker comes,” Faiswal told PML Daily.
However, the disposition of the street children aside, the municipal public health department, in conjunction with the veterinary department, on May 22, wrote to all dog owners to restrain their dogs as operatives were set to move in to poison canines loitering in town.
According to Charles Wandera, the Mbale municipality principal health inspector, at least 15 people are bitten by stray dogs in Mbale Municipality every month.
In October, last year, street kids in Mbale barricaded Naboa road for close to three hours and fought running battles with police as they protested a move by municipal authorities to poison stray dogs.
Dog experts, however, say the heat cycle only lasts two to three weeks after which dogs return to ‘normal’ routine. During the mating cycle, the female dogs release hormones that attract the males and this makes them go crazy. At the same time, the female dogs would go crazy when they smell their male counterpart in the vicinity.