The troubles that have dogged the pound that hosts stray and abandoned dogs in Nairobi seem to be unending.
Last week, the county government issued a directive to kill the animals or donate them to research after it became apparent they can no longer afford to take care of the animals.
An insider at the pound said they had 28 dogs, but the procurement process to get dog food and lack of funding made them think of an alternative way to handle the animals.
They decided to dispose and donate some to the University of Nairobi’s Veterinary Department. This move evoked anger from animal rights activists, who called it inhumane and asked the county to reconsider and offer the dogs for adoption instead.
“Doggie emergency! Nairobi City Council Dog Pound is planning to euthanise all the dogs at the pound despite the fact that members of the public have been paying for their food and vaccinations for the last six months and most are friendly and highly adoptable,” read a tweet by Andrea Bohnsteadt, in an appeal that was shared widely.
There has been agitation from activists and the public who feel that there should be a sustainable way of handling the animals.
“Some of the dogs that end up at the pound are healthy dogs that got lost and the owners are looking for them. Some are puppies born in the pound. It is so wrong to kill them,” said Alex Onyango, who keeps dogs as a hobby.
Dr Peter Muriithi, Director of Veterinary Services at the county admits that they gave an order to dispose of the dogs, but says they are now reconsidering and they will be having a multi stakeholder forum tomorrow to open ways on how the adoption process can be open to the public.
“It is easy to do it between two government agencies, and that is why we chose the University of Nairobi. Now that we know there are people who want to adopt, it is good news,” he said.
Dealing with abandoned and stray dogs has been a winding and never ending problem. It is a constant tag of war between animal rights activists and the government, and the solution is elusive.
In May 2019, City Hall announced they will be soliciting and spending Sh100 million to eliminate stray dogs. Dr Muriithi had said they get more than 50,000 stray dogs every year and they wanted to get shot guns to kill them in accordance with the WHO regulations.
The Sh100 million was to solicit for the guns and care for other logistics, including the pound.
The pound, he had explained, has a small capacity and could only hold a few dogs.
Last year, when the Sunday Standard visited the dog pound in Pangani, there were emaciated dogs crying for food. Others were too frail to move. The vaccination centre that had been started in the compound that hosts the pound remained abandoned.
The dog pound is a section of the Agriculture Ministry. It was established more than 30 years ago to vaccinate and host stray dogs to reduce the risk of spreading rabies.
Insiders say over the years, mismanagement of funds has made the place practically abandoned.
“The pound raises money because it is here that anyone who wants to keep a dog makes payment. Unfortunately, the money is never put back to the pound,” one of the employees had said. It costs Sh2,000 to license a dog.
On Tuesday, some dogs werereportedly taken to the University of Nairobi Kabete’s campus to be used for lab work. The university returned some of them to the pound after intense campaigns erupted online and off the net to stop the use of healthy animals for research.
“It is strange to put down healthy animals. It is only those that are having a terminal illness that should be considered for euthanasia, said Dr Dennis Bahati of Africa Network for Animal Welfare, an organisation that champions for the rights of animals.
Since the county gave the order to remove the dogs from the pound, most people have offered to take at least one dog for adoption.
Kenya does not have an elaborate animal adoption process and every stray dog that is captured by the county government automatically becomes property of the State.
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