They Call Me Dog Father
Tom Sandi (pictured below feeding community dogs) is one of the founders of CCA-SL. In his post for the AKI Blog, he tells us about how dogs and cats are treated in Sierra Leone and about the work of CCA-SL.
One of the legacies of the 11 year armed conflict in my country is gross animal cruelty
particularly to dogs and cats (starvation, neglect, brutal killing of animals, use of animals for ritual purposes, torture, etc). For this reason in May 2005, I, Tom Sandi, and other
animal lovers established Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals in Sierra Leone
The years of armed conflict introduced a culture of wickedness by certain Sierra Leoneans
against their fellow men, let alone against animals. Domestic animals, particularly dogs and
cats, are perceived as evil by a good number of Sierra Leoneans. They are regarded as
witches. When someone dreams of a cat or dog, it is regarded as a bad omen. Also, there
is a particular religion that perceives dogs as “haram” which means unclean.
The eating of dogs and cats particularly in the Sierra Leone-Liberia and Sierra Leone-Guinea
border communities has become a challenge to CCA-SL and a concern to many pet owners.
The eating of dogs has been practiced for years by a certain minority tribe (which I will not
mention here) living along the Sierra Leone Liberia/Guinea border communities. It slowly
moved in to urban communities when this minority tribe moved into urban areas in the
country. Some people over the years have been prosecuted for selling dog meat as roast
Another way dog eating as has spread in urban areas (towns and cities) is through the culture
of some foreigners like the Nigerians and the Chinese that come to our country. Cat eating
has been practiced--but more low key than dog eating--particularly by youths throughout
The Ebola scourge only worsened the situation. Dog eating swiftly started moving into
the entire country when our government passed a law against the eating of bush meat
as a way of fighting the Ebola virus. The hunting and eating of bush meat is a concern since monkeys, bats, and other wildlife were believed to be one of the sources of the spread
Initially, dogs were used by most rural communities to hunt wild animals. This meat provided
them their main source of protein. But when the killing and eating of bush meat was prohibited,
the services of the dogs to rural communities were no longer needed and thus they were
slaughtered as an alternative to bush meat.
Poverty also contributes to dog eating. The Ebola bylaws prohibit the movement of people,
and because people were unable to move, trade suffered. Trade is a major source of income,
particularly for rural communities. Dog meat is cheap and prevalent, so with increased poverty,
we are noticing an increase in dog meat eating.
The reason that CCA-SL was established--to change the mindset of people about dogs
and cats and any other animals--was as important in 2005 as it is now! Proverbs Chapter 12
Verse 10 of the Holy Bible states that cruelty to animals is wickedness.
The good news is that there are a good number of people that believe in pet owning.
In fact, people call me Dog Father because they see me and my team advocating for
the welfare of animals.
CCA-SL is a community-led animal welfare and advocacy group registered with the Ministry
of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs as an Indigenous Local Voluntary Organization
to end all forms of human perpetrated cruelty/violence against animals particularly companion
animals (dogs and cats) through humane education in schools, awareness raising/sensitization,
promoting vegetarianism, stray dog feeding programs, policy dialogue/advocacy, campaign
initiatives, observing worldwide animal welfare and rights, events, etc. In the pictures you can see we reach so many children with our humane education program-the key to changing attitudes is to teach children at a young age about how to care for their dogs, cats, and other animals, and that animals have feelings and should be treated kindly.