By Titilayo Kupoliyi
Dogs described as domesticated descendant of the wolf has been a natural part of man from time immemorial.
They were the first species to be domesticated by hunter-gatherers over 15,000 years ago before the development of agriculture.
Today, dogs are increasingly being utilized for multiple purposes including security, shepherding flocks, crime bursting, sniffing out hard drugs at airports and seaports, circus shows and as a companion.
These numerous uses have turned these domestic canines, which are in various breeds, into big businesses or commercial venture.
International Canine Federation, FCI, recognizes 360 breeds, estimates put the number of dogs in Nigeria above 10 million.
However, despite the endearing usefulness of dogs in the country, there is growing concern about the threat they constitute through their bites, which could lead to rabies from untreated dogs.
According to the World Health Organisation, animal bites are a major public health problem in children and adults.
Studies have shown that dogs account for 76 to 94 per cent of animal bite injuries while dog bites are also responsible for approximately “tens of millions of injuries annually” and about 59,000 people die annually from rabies.
Most of these deaths come from new breeds of dogs brought into the country or reared for sale.
Some of these include German shepherd dog, Boerboel, Rottweiler, Basenji, Alsatian, Caucasian ,Pitbull and English Mastiff.
Recently, there has been an upsurge in reports of dog attacks, which is raising safety concern among lovers of the domestic animal.
The most recent was that case of Osun State where two Alsatian dogs attacked a nursing mother named Mummy Basira and killed her baby girl strapped to her back on the 30th August, 2023.
In July, a newly married man, Muhammed Faworaja, reportedly died after being bitten by a dog in Kwara State.
Also in 2015, Maureen Akowe lost her four-month-old baby to her dog in Asaba, Delta State. The baby was in the mother’s car alongside the dog in a popular supermarket on Okpanam Road, Asaba, Delta State.
Similarly, ten dogs owned by a UK returnee fondly called Mr. Chinedu Oka, devoured a two year-old child.
Experts attribute the attacks to initial aggression, pointing out that several incidents show that dogs bite even their owners while they try to stop the aggression.
Also, human error or negligence could also account for bites or fatal attacks by dogs, especially when the dogs are not taken care of, well fed or well secured by their owners.
The fatal attack on the baby girl and injury inflicted on her mother Basira by two Alsatian dogs in Osun State this year was a function of gross negligence by the owners as the dogs as they were not secured.
At this juncture,It is important to stem this emerging tide of attacks and deaths.
A significant step in this direction is to hold negligent dog owners accountable for any incident.
Commendably, Osun state government has read a riot act to dog owners warning that it would no longer condone dogs unleashing terror on residents in her domain
Hence,dog owners should show responsibility to neighbours and their community by doing the needful in ensuring the health of their dogs and train them against undue aggression on harmless citizens.
Lastly, the association of dog breeders in the country should educate their members on the imperative of regular vaccination for their dogs and ensure that their dogs do not constitute nuisance or threats to the society.