The Homeless Animals Protection Society is the first of its kind as far as
I know. It always baffles me to understand why, animal-loving society as
we are, we seem to have a misguided outlook towards wild animals in
general and stray dogs in particular. If a humble looking animal suddenly
turns wild and starts frolicking outside the herd, we tend to chase it and
throw everything at it in our excitement. Sometimes this state of affairs
transcends normalcy and we may even pick up weapons to restrain the poor
animal, which will pay dearly for its jovial frolicking.
Some years back I remember reading about rabies that claimed the lives of
many of the country’s valuable Red Foxes living in the mountains of Bale
in Oromia. It was tragic to know that domestic dogs carrying the disease
had affairs with their Red Fox darlings and in the process transmitted the
deadly virus. It is from that tragic event that the founders of HAPS are
said to have taken the initiative to found a society. The society aims to
protect unwanted animals in general and endemic animals in particular with
the help of Animal People USA and other international societies and
friends of animals.
It is historical irony that street children are the best friends of stray
dogs. Maybe they have a mutual interest to keep company with one another.
The children share their food with the stray dogs. For their part, the
animals keep the children warm, sleeping nearby and watching guard. When
humans exhaust their need and want to get rid of the dogs, they have no
options at their disposals. Before HAPS came to be, there were no adoption
centers or shelters where you could take your pet animals.
If there is nothing one can do to help a sick stray animal, one should at
least see to it that the animal gets euthanasia and endure a painless
death. We have to be able to control the birth rate of the growing
population of stray animals through some kind of vaccination or birth
control mechanism like spaying or removing the reproduction organs of
The society is engaged in awareness building to guide the opinions of
people towards animals and their problems. The society has undertaken
educational programs around Bale Mountains and other places. It also
controls the accelerated growth population of diseased animals through
vaccination and medical treatment. The society tries to promote adoption
programs also. Protecting animals and caring for pet animals is generally
a practice that should be inculcated in the minds of school children.
In most families, children are brought up to be scared of imaginary hyenas
and barking dogs, who might come and bite them if the child does not keep
quite even if their crying is a language to request food of comfort. So we
grow hating dogs and wild animals in general. Ethiopian hunters in general
pick up arms not to hunt animals for the sake of sport but to extinguish
the prey altogether.
A few months back my daughter was here with her toddler of two and half
years old. She was particular that the child not be exposed to animals or
fowls being slain. I had to use all my psychological power to make the
child believe that I was only taking off the gown of the sheep when in
actual fact I was skinning the poor sheep hanging down from a loop knot.
It is sad to note that of all the conferences and seminars screened on ETV,
not a single one of them pertains to animals in general and stray dogs in
particular, considering the fact we live together. I am not forgetting the
donkey case, which is an exception rather than the rule.
How much do we know about cats? I had once participated in a Trade Fare
Exhibition held in Washington. By some coincidence there was another
exhibition held by American Animal Lovers Societies in the next hall. I
sneaked away to see the exhibition, which was exclusively meant for
showing varieties of cats. I was thrilled to see a full audience when
there was not a single American visiting our exhibition except one man
sent from the US Commerce Department. What I am trying to say is that we
should give due accord and show friendly gesture to animals.
‘Fortune’ weekly news paper Vol. 7, No. 321 June 25, 2006
VIEW FROM ARADA
By Girma Feyissa