Below is from an article written by WAP
Dr. Abdul Gudush Jalloh founded the Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society (SLAWS) and still leads the organization. He also works with animal welfare for the government. He is one of the four state veterinarians in Sierra Leone, devoting his life to helping dogs in the capital Freetown.
Created SLAWS to take care of the dogs
"I founded SLAWS in 1986. I did because I saw so many street dogs and nobody cared about them. There was a lot of complaints from the city and we had to deal with it - there was so much animal abuse and we had to find a way to help the dogs. "
Dr. Jalloh was looking for people who wanted to help:
"It was a lady and her husband who worked for UNDP. We organized diplomatmakers, employees in the US embassy and so on - in the end we got together a help group. But as soon as the group was assembled, the war came and everyone went home to their homelands. We were left with our dogs and our programs. At the same time people left their homes, they fled away and their dogs were left on the streets. They strolled around, searched for food, ate by people killed. "
Help from WSPA
"In 2005, we began to receive support from WSPA, as World Animal Protection was called. First, people would not let us vaccinate their dogs, but after a while the dog owners realized we were on the right track and started bringing their dogs to us. People in villages around us still get there and vaccinate but the program ended unfortunately. "
By 2010, the number of dogs decreased and the number of rabies cases decreased dramatically.
"But after 2009, WSPA's funding ended and we could not do that much," says Dr. Jalloh. "We could get some individuals who wanted to help. A couple of veterinarians and some companies were with and sponsored but it was on a small scale. Not like when we could sterilize 30-40 animals in one day. It decreased to 5-10 and now we only sterilize those who bring their dogs here. "
Dr Jalloh is looking forward to a changing attitude towards the dogs.
"The interesting thing is that there has been an attitude change. People are prepared to pay for sterilization and vaccination and want to help their dogs. But rabies and scab is a big problem. Ebola also raises it. When it spread, people began to beat the dogs again. Many abandoned their dogs, threw them out. We did what we could, we bought food for them, gave some vaccines but it was just a small effort. We asked for help but the problem is increasing for each day.Something has to be done but something can also be done. "
"I have worked with animals throughout my life and I know the good and the joy of animals. They help their communities. But when they become too many and people die of dog bites, dogs will suffer. They will be killed. Sometimes it's the way the dogs are killed, not just the killing itself, which is the worst. "
Dr Jalloh summarizes why the problem is so great in just Sierra Leone:
"The war was the worst. Since we did not get resources from outside to help animals. And then ebola and rabies. We need a plan for how the dogs will reduce. On the other hand, the legislation is in place and the government and authorities are for human dog management. "
He explains what we can contribute:
"We can not implement these programs without resources. One of the most important things that World Animal Protection can do is to raise funds for the programs. They can also arrange experts, get vaccines, talk with people, organize workshops, change people's approach. They have been here before, three out of four mobile veterinary clinics come from them. They are important for changing people's view of dogs, they see that the animals can be treated and they see you and someone cares. People really care. What would most delight me is an attitude change. "
- Do you think the problem can be solved?
"I'm sure the problem can be solved. We have the will and you show the way - we arrive, "says Dr. Jalloh, laughing.
Photo Credit: Nina deVries /SLAWS
"In life there are many ways in getting almost anywhere you want to go and achieve anything you want to do. The most important is the willingness to go where there was no path, achieve and leave a trail.”
- Dr Gudush Jalloh
Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society (SLAWS) was formed by Dr Abdul Gudush Jalloh, the only practising vet in Sierra Leone, in 1988.
It is a non-profit organization based in Freetown, dedicated to the humane care of animals and advocate for their welfare throughout Sierra Leone and Africa.
Dr Jalloh became a vet in response to the tragic death of his brother from rabies - a disease which is usually spread by dogs, yet can be prevented by vaccination.
SLAWS was set up by Dr Jalloh with the specific objectives:
To reduce the incidence of dog bites and human deaths from rabies
To encourage responsible pet ownership
To vaccinate all owned pets and treat them for ticks, fleas and worms
To register all pets and provide a means of identification
To conduct humane education programmes for livestock and pet owners and implementing partners of livestock programmes.
So far, the small team at SLAWS have vaccinated an estimated 100 thousand dogs against rabies and sterilised 55,000, as well as carrying out public education on rabies risk reduction and humane treatment of animals through school 'Kindness Clubs
"SLAWS works to alleviate the suffering of animals in Sierra Leone and in doing so to improve human health. We believe the two are co-dependent. We work to humanely reduce the number of unwanted and stray dogs in Sierra Leone by carrying out neutering and rabies vaccination programmes. By carrying out education programmes for pet and livestock owners we seek to build a culture in Sierra Leone whereby cruelty to animals is not tolerated by our fellow citizens".