Accra, July 31, GNA - Ghana Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (GSPCA), has launched an aggressive public education to raise awareness about importance of fostering good relationship with animals in order to prevent deadly viruses transferable to humans.
The education followed concerns raised by the animal rights body that poor treatment of domestic beasts including dogs, cats, goats, sheep and donkeys force them to join stray ones and acquire deadly viruses like rabies and Ebola which are transferrable to humans.
Mr David Nyaogbe, Co-Founder of GSPCA called on the Animals Division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to support its public education efforts.
He called for the reintroduction of the mass vaccination exercise that was done yearly across the country.
Mr Nyaogbe was speaking to the Ghana News Agency at a forum that brought a number of basic schools in the Greater Accra Region, to share information about the importance of showing compassion and good care to domestic animals.
He said students have been mounting peer humane education and information in their schools and neighbourhoods about the need to feed domestic mammals with clean food and allowing them sanitised sleeping places like human beings.
The students advised pets’ keepers to avoid giving left over foods or dirty water, particularly those riddled with bones and foreign materials, to animals.
“We want people to know that animals also matter, they were created to co-exist with human beings but one is trying to dominate, it is bringing a lot of chaos,” Mr Nyaogbe said.
“If for example you get dog or cat and you don’t to feed it properly it will go to feed with stray animals and get rabies, which is now on the rise in Ghana.
“People’s attitude towards animals must change, stoning them is not acceptable. If you can’t treat the animal well, don’t keep it. If they are properly treated they can keep watch over homes.”
Researchers in animals’ protection and care have highlighted the benefits of pets for human health.
Their studies have found that people who have pets have healthier hearts conditions, lower blood pressure, stay home, gets sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed.
Pets such as dogs may also have a significant impact on allergies, asthma, social support, and improve social interactions with other people.
When a child has no brothers or sisters, research shows that pets help children develop greater empathy, higher self-esteem, and increased participation in social and physical activities.
Health officials say from January to September last year, 70 dog bites were recorded in Accra, with six deaths, while 25 human rabies deaths were noted from January 2009 - July 2011.
About 890 dog bite cases were recorded by the Veterinary Services in the last quarter of 2014 and 120 of the cases were as a result of stray dogs.
Animals rights group fear the number of cases could surge this year as population of stray dogs continue to swell on the streets of cities in the country.
The Veterinary Service has warned of increased rabies related deaths following reports of acute shortage of dog vaccines and smuggling of rabies serums into private drug dealers.
Mr Amasaba-Abdul Yakeen Aluiza, Programmes Officer of GSPCA said the organisation early this year vaccinated and dewormed hundreds of dogs, cats and donkeys across the country.
It also treated wounds of a number of animals. At Adenta alone 40 dogs and cats were given attention while in northern parts of the country, around 112 donkeys were dewormed and their wounds treated.
“Rabies are deadly diseases, in fact, most animal diseases are fatal and children are the most vulnerable, if I see children being free of rabies, I will be the happiest person,” he said.