SEVEN years ago, Bruno used to be a lovable dog whose owner in Barangay Casuntingan, Mandaue City cared for well. But last Jan. 21, the dog attacked 23 residents in two barangays, and had to be put down.
He had ceased to be recognizable.
A fluorescent antibody test conducted by a government facility in Tacloban City in Leyte confirmed that Bruno had rabies. To do that, it tested the dog’s head, which officials had sent after he died in Mandaue, barely two hours after being captured.
Webster “Macoy” Seno, whose family owned the dog, told SunStar Cebu that Bruno went missing two months ago.
Seno was spotted around 6 a.m. last Thursday sitting in a patrol car a few meters away from the Casuntingan Barangay Hall, while some residents gathered for an interview.
He denied that he owned the dog, saying it was his brother’s pet. He was reportedly among the subjects of the local police’s Oplan Tokhang, a campaign that sends the police knocking on the homes of suspected drug users or pushers, and persuading them to give it up.
Seno has been staying alone in his family’s house after his parents and siblings left, according to Casuntingan Barangay Captain Oscar del Castillo, one of the 23 persons Bruno had bitten.
Immediately after the dog attacked them last Jan. 21, some of those bitten thought they were going to die. By then, the dog had become a stray animal, forced to fend for itself out on the streets.
Eufil Fuertes, 21, of Sitio Nangka, Casuntingan, was walking on the road from work at 5:30 p.m. when Bruno bit him in one calf. He did not notice the dog before it pounced.
“Nakuyawan ko, oy! Nasin kami na unya’y biliran (I was afraid when I found out the dog was rabid. I thought I would die),” Fuertes said.
Peligrina Guibao, the oldest among the victims, said it was a pedicab driver who advised her to go to the police station as there might other victims the dog had bitten.
Guibao, 58, did meet the other residents of Casuntingan whom Bruno had attacked. “Nalipay ko nga namatay aron wa na’y mapaakan (I am happy that the dog died so it can no longer bite others),” Guibao said.
Barangay Captain del Castillo, a police officer and his barangay tanods were the ones who found Bruno near a funeral parlor in Banilad. They caught Bruno, but del Castillo was not spared.
The dog attacked him when he focused his flashlight on the animal.
Del Castillo appealed to his constituents to turn their dogs over if they can no longer care for them.
The City Health Office has given the first two anti-rabies shots and medicines to the victims, and two more shots are expected.
The City Veterinary Office (CVO) also gave anti-rabies vaccines to more than a hundred dogs and cats in Casuntingan, in case Bruno had bitten them, too, and as one way to prevent rabies from spreading.
A dog that was later found positive of rabies had bitten one person last year, according to CVO head Dr. Nestor Taasan.
Bruno was the first one to be tested positive this year.