The case study revolves around the dire situation faced by 70 dogs impounded en route from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under suspicion of involvement in the meat trade. The dogs’ conditions were precarious, and over half of them had already succumbed to the extreme heat and suffocation. An alarming court order had authorized their execution by shooting. This narrative follows the efforts of Christopher Mulenga, a dedicated member of the Cactus Foundation, and his collaboration with various organizations to reverse this tragic fate.
Interview with Christopher Mulenga:
Christopher Mulenga, a key coordinator from the Cactus Foundation, took the lead in responding to the urgent crisis. His actions involved engaging with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to garner support for the Mukushi dogs’ case. Alongside Sarah Clayton and the team, Christopher went to the Lusaka High Court to obtain an injunction to halt the court order, eventually being directed to the Magistrate in Mukushi.
Details from the Interview:
According to Mr. Mulenga, a group of individuals attempted to transport the 70 dogs from Luapula to the Copperbelt, potentially destined for the Congo. However, their permit request was denied. Undeterred, they loaded the dogs onto a container truck and commenced their journey. As they passed through Mukushi, Zambian police intervened and alerted the district veterinary officer. The dogs were detained due to the absence of proper paperwork, causing hours of uncertainty. With the scorching heat exacerbating the situation, the district veterinary officer was unsure of how to proceed. Eventually, a court order was sought to authorize the dogs’ euthanasia under the assumption of potential infectious diseases due to their lack of vaccination records.
Animal Welfare Organizations’ Response:
Animal lovers promptly caught wind of the court order to kill the dogs and swiftly notified several animal welfare organizations, including ARRC, LAWS, CAWS, ZAWS, and the Cactus Foundation. These organizations mobilized their resources and networks to save the animals, receiving support from the district veterinary officer. However, the court remained determined to enforce its order, leading the animal welfare organizations to engage lawyers in an attempt to reverse the decision.
Investigation and Rescue Efforts:
A team consisting of Cactus Foundation members, Sarah Clayton, and representatives from the Network for Animals, visited Mukushi to investigate the case further. Among the rescued dogs, only 19 were found alive, prompting the Cactus Foundation to offer assistance in caring for them due to other organizations lacking the capacity to do so. The surviving dogs were transported from Mukushi to Lusaka over a three-day period. Once they arrived at the Cactus Foundation, the Lusaka district veterinary officer inspected the facilities, assessed the dogs’ health, and took specimens for testing, all of which confirmed the dogs’ good health.
Supporting the Deceased Dogs:
To honor the dogs that did not survive the ordeal, the Cactus Foundation organized a heartfelt vigil at the Gymkhana Club. The event was graced by Ms. Ketty Nanyangwe, the esteemed Mayor of Lusaka City. Since that day, the dogs have remained under the care of the Cactus Foundation.