From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
In Ekiti State, dogs, fondly called 404, are not just seen as domestic animals or pets, but are also loved by the people because they are believed to have some uncommon benefits that make them special animals. Local dogs are used by traditionalists and adherents of the traditional religion to offer prayers to the god of iron (Ogun) in the state. In addition to its acclaimed health benefits, most people believe dog meat has some spiritual benefits when consumed, hence their love for the meat.
Sellers and consumers of dog meat in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, told Daily Sun that when a dog is slaughtered and prepared, it naturally attracts eaters from far and near and the regular consumption of the meat will, among other benefits, keep spiritual attacks miles away, protect one from evil, help fight malaria in the body and help pregnant women deliver easily and safely.
Daily Sun visited some spots in the town where dog meat is daily prepared as a delicacy and sold to the public.
One of the dog sellers, Mr. Ojo Osho, alias Gobe Alaja, a native of Ado-Ekiti, who operates in the Idolofin area of Ado-Ekiti, disclosed that he has been in the business for close to 14 years and does not regret it: “I have been in this business close to 14 years now. I used to ride okada for a living when I was in Ikole-Ekiti, but decided to go into this business when I thought riding okada was not a business I could do for a long time and I don’t regret going into the business.”
He said, although there is not much profit in the business, he is contented and can advise anyone who knows what he is doing to also go into the business.
“I kill two dogs every day and and, since I started doing the business, I give all the glory to God. I don’t say I am satisfied but at least I can fend for myself and family,” he added.
He disclosed that he slaughters only local dogs and not foreign or cross-bred dogs, because they have been “injected.”
Osho said he scouts for dogs within Ekiti and sometimes goes to Osun and Kwara states. He he also resells live dogs to people who use it for prayers. He disclosed that he doesn’t buy, kill or collect sick and unhealthy dogs or dogs killed by vehicles, whether cheap or given free.
Explaining how he prepares the meat, he said : “When I kill a dog, I will roast it for some minutes, cut to sizes, season with only salt and cook half done. When it is half done, I will remove it from fire and sift out the juice into a container and place the meat on fire again, pour my already ground pepper and leave for 20 minutes to dry, then remove from fire. After this, I pour the meat on a metal net placed on hot charcoal fire, where it will be roasting gradually and customers point at their choice to buy.”
The inside of a dog is clean and, unlike other animals, it has only one intestine. “I clean the intestine very well and cook,” he said.
Asked why he uses only salt as seasoning, he said: “I don’t use Maggi, onions or seasoning to cook the dog meat. I only use salt and pepper, my customers know this because dog meat has natural ingredients that makes it tasty when cooked. I also tear and pour the bile gotten from inside the dog when I am about to cook the meat.
“After preparation, each piece of meat is sold for between N100 and N200, while the head of the dog is sold for N800. The meat can also be used for soup, stew and sauce in the home.”
Osho’s customers come from far and near, including students, workers, vehicle owners, okada riders, drivers, men and women, old and young.
He countered the belief that when a pregnant dog is killed, nothing is found inside the stomach: “It is not true. I have unknowingly killed many pregnant dogs and found their unborn kids inside them, and I removed them.”
According to him, anybody can eat dog meat, except for adherents of Islam, and when a pregnant woman eats the legs of dogs (cooked) regularly, when she is delivered of a baby, the baby is likely to walk at eight or nine months and may even skip crawling to do this. Also, dogs don’t bark at someone who eats the meat but bark at someone they see not to be an ordinary human being, because dogs see beyond the ordinary.
Another seller, Mr. Ekeson Ani, whose shop is located around Tipper Garage area of Ado-Ekiti, a native of Ebonyi State, has been providing for his family from selling dog meat for four years.
Ani, who was into ready-made clothes in the eastern part of the country, said he decided to change his line of business when his clothing business was growing poor and he could no longer provide for his nuclear family.
He said he learnt the business of selling dogs from one of his brothers, who was into it in the East, and started doing it when he relocated to Ado-Ekiti.
He revealed the difficulty involved in scouting for dogs, as sometimes he would travel to many towns within the state and not get a dog to buy or get only one.
On the type of dogs he buys and slaughters, he said : “I kill local dogs that are alive and healthy.”
In the case of Ani, preparing his dog meat is different as he adds Maggi, onions and other seasoning to it.
“When I kill a dog, I will roast the skin on the fire, wash it very well before I start to cut into sizes. After cutting, I wash it again and add seasoning, onions, chopped scent leaves and pepper. When it is cooked, I remove from fire. This time, I will separate the meat from the soup (broth) and pour the meat on metal net placed on hot charcoal fire to dry.
“I kill one or two dogs every day, depending on sales. I cut the meat to sizes and sometimes sell for between N100 and N200, and I sell the head of the dog for between N700 and N1,000, depending on how big it is,” he said.
Customers from within and outside the neighbourhood patronise him, including office workers, business owners, okada riders, drivers, artisans, students, men and women, young and old.
Ani claimed that the soup from the meat, when taken hot with the meat, once or twice daily for three or four days, can help cure malaria, as the sick person would pass out everything through urine.
Some of the consumers, who spoke to Daily Sun, gave reasons they consume the meat.
Mr. Tayo Adewunmi, a businessman, said: “We buy and kill dogs to offer prayers to the god of iron (Ogun), that is why I like it. There is no ow you will kill a dog and cook it that it will remain; every piece of the meat will be consumed because people will come from far and near to eat it. Dog is one animal that is naturally loved by people and when you eat the meat regularly, your ways will continually open and you will make it in whatever you are doing.
“For somebody whose job or business is not growing, if the person eats the meat regularly, the god of iron will continually open ways for the person. This is why I eat the meat and, as part of our age-long tradition, we use it to offer prayers to the god of iron.”
Eating dog meat is good for the body, said Mr. Tope Adetunji, an artisan.
“When a person eats the meat and takes the soup, it will be very difficult for the person to be down with malaria. There is a part called the heart, if one eats it often, it takes away troubles from one’s life, that is why I like eating it.”
Mrs. Mary Adesanya, a businesswoman, said: “One, I like dog meat because it is very sweet. Two, some of us believe that dog is a spiritual animal, if somebody is eating the meat, he or she may not be attacked by evil people. I take it twice or three times in a week.”
Mr. Adetoye Dada, a retired schoolteacher, explained that, “A dog will naturally draw people closer to the place where it was killed. It is different from other animals. For instance, if a dog is killed here now with just two or three people around, before you finish cooking the meat the number of people present will be more than 20, who will show interest in eating it. It is good for the body and its benefits are many. Unlike other animals, it has only one intestine. The juice from the cooked meat, when taken regularly, will keep malaria away from one’s body.
“When a person eats the meat always, it will be difficult for spiritual powers to conquer the person. A dog sees beyond the physical and when it sees an unclean person or thing, it shows signs. It is different from other animals and, for somebody who knows how to cook the meat, it is sweet. I buy it every day and I love buying the intestine, it is sold for N500.”
Mr. Adefemi Shola, an okada rider, said: “Dog is a very good animal and I love eating the meat because it protects someone from falling prey to the commands of evil people. It also prevents evil from happening to a person. I come around every day to buy it.”
Dr. Aina Felix Olukayode of the Department of Family Medicine, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), Ado-Ekiti, also spoke on the health benefits of eating dog meat. He said: “It is common knowledge that people eat local dogs not only in Nigeria but in many other countries. Foreign and cross-breed dogs are not natural and consumption could pose health risk.”
Highlighting the health benefits of eating dog meat, Olukayode said : “Apart from the fact that dog meat contains nutrients like fat, proteins, vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to the human body, which are direct health benefits, there are also other indirect health benefits of eating dog meat. These incude the availability in emergency situations like famine. Most families keep dogs as pets and they can be consumed to provide nutrients for the body in famine conditions. Two, dog meat can indirectly be of health benefit by providing source of livelihood for rearers, since human consumption will increase demand for it.”
The medical practitioner, however, explained that most of the claims on the health benefits of eating dog meat, like being good for pregnant women, making one manly, curing diseases and warming the body, among others, have no scientific basis.