Rabies makes bad Zimbabwe situation worse
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2002–
HARARE, Zimbabwe–If Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabwe
responds to the mid-March death of a Mhondoro boy from rabies at
Harare Central Hospital as faltering dictators usually do, his next
move will be to put troops on the streets to shoot stray dogs
wherever his hold on authority is weak.
Four other people were believed to have been bitten by the
dog who infected the dead boy. But a week after the death, only
three of the other bite victims had been found.
The 14-member society Zimbabwe National SPCA was meanwhile
kept busy both before and after the March 9-11 elections rescuing
animals from farms occupied by militant Mugabwe supporters calling
themselves “war veterans.”
Meryl Harrison, heading the rescue team, responded to cases
of dogs been stoned and beaten, cattle starved and slashed with
axes, and in possibly the most disturbing case, found severely
starved pigs cannibalizing the remains of others.
In each case Harrison was obliged to negotiate the terms of
the animal rescue with the “war veterans” on the scene, who
frequently were uncooperative and sometimes insisted on appropriating
livestock they did not know how to handle or feed properly as their
After the election Harrison responded to the case of Squeak,
a 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier who unsuccessfully defended farmer
Terry Ford, 56, from a mob of war veterans who dragged him from his
car, beat him severely, and shot him dead. A photo of Squeak lying
on top of Ford’s body appeared on the front page of the Johannesburg
Star. Squeak was taken in by Ford’s girlfriend.
Several well-connected Mugabwe supporters had tried to claim
Ford’s farm, including Mugabwe’s older sister Sabina, who told Ford
to leave so that she could take the house as far back as November
[The Zimbabwe National SPCA ZIMHELP fund for the farm rescues
is set up at P.O. Box 1320, Alberton 1450, Zimbabwe; telephone