years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
DOG POPULATION MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
There is no single solution to dog population management that will work for all situations.
The most important and universal concept is the need for a thorough initial assessment o determine the local situation. Animals Asia recommends authorities work in partnership with the local veterinary community, local animal-welfare organisations, the local population (both dog-owners and non-owners), and international NGOs to complete a thorough assessment of the local dog population.
This will need infrastructure, finances, human resources, and a long term commitment to develop interventions that are sustainable.
Resource requirements should be written into the budget and planning of the responsible government authority. Governments must provide a long term commitment to the process.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
NGOs play an important advisory role within this process but should not take on overall responsibility unless through contractual agreement with the government.
Veterinarians are essential to carry out the surgical side, sterilizations etc and to influence responsible pet ownership through their ability to influence owner behaviour.
The aim is to turn unowned dogs into owned or community dogs by engaging the community in their care. If dogs are vaccinated and deemed ‘safe’ this will help improve people’s willing to claim ownership.
Most stray dogs are, or were once, owned therefore a long-term solution is to improve responsible dog ownership, this is the ultimate answer to sustainable, effective control and will reduce many of the sources of roaming dogs
Long-term goal: Every dog has an owner who is willing to take responsibility for it, and the infrastructure is in place to enable this.
This assessment must consider the current size of the dog population and the classification of this population into the above categories.
The assessment needs to identify the welfare problems that owned and non-owned dogs face, the social problems caused by owned and non-owned dogs and the public’s perception of owned and non-owned dogs, plus the effectiveness of current regulations to manage these problems.
The assessment needs to identify the reasons for the number of un-owned dogs. An assessment of where these dogs are coming from, are they being bred within the authority limits or coming into the area from surrounding locations, or a combination of these two factors.
Human behaviour is the most important and influential factor behind dog population dynamics. The owned dog population is usually a significant source of the roaming dog population. Purposeful feeding can encourage roaming, and the extent to which a dog relies on the resources available on public property will also depend on level of care provided by its owner.
It’s crucial to understand the reasons why people want the dog population to be managed, so that you can work towards a solution that will satisfy all stakeholders.
An assessment also needs to needs to research the current parameters affecting dog management and the community’s perception of dogs.
Identify sections of the community already involved in dog management/bite prevention, and responsible dog ownership
Identify current political landscape with regards dog bite issues, i.e. current opinion of the government and the community
Identify community ‘hot topics’ such as dog waste, dog attacks .....
Identify support from other government departments such as the health department
Identify history of dog bites in the area through a media review
Identify partners: Pubic, government, pet related businesses,
Identify potential barriers: civic liberty, breed groups, dog owners
COMPONENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE DOG MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
On completion of the assessment, Animals Asia recommends an effective dog-management programme should include a number of components including education, legislation, registration, sterilisation, vaccination, and the availability of holding centres and rehoming facilities.
RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP
Development of a public education initiative to encourage greater responsibility among dog-owners for population management and the care and welfare of individual animals. This education initiative centres on bite-prevention; caring for dogs to meet their welfare needs; responsible dog ownership; promoting the importance of, and access to, preventative treatments such as rabies vaccination and parasite-control; and knowledge of normal and abnormal canine behaviour in both owned and non-owned dogs.
Educational elements include:
Appropriate pet selection
Nutrition, housing and medical care
Compliance with licensing regulations
Supervision of dog and child interactions
The key personnel to be included within an education programme are:
Public officials and community leaders
Veterinarians and technicians:
Educate dog owners on acceptable and non-acceptable dog behaviour
Refer dogs and owners to dog training
Provide advice for prospective owners
Provide advice for owners with new puppies when they come to clinic for immunisation
Provide continued advice for dog owners on subsequent visits
Need to be assessed for methods used and competence, dog trainers are only part of the solution as we need to train both the dogs and the owners
Physicians and Nurses
Providing advice to victims can be very effective in preventing future injuries.
Animal Control Personnel
Provide education in schools
Train teachers, nurses and volunteers in dog bite prevention.
Humane Society Personnel
Have an opportunity to assess potential dog owners
Educate owner’s responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention.
General Public: The pubic are a critical element of an effective education programme. Studies estimate 50% of dog bites are inflicted by the family dog
Children are the most common victim; the most vulnerable age is 5-9 year olds. High risk due to proximity of face to the dog. Education on behaviour around dogs i.e. no running, shouting, hitting, eye contact etc.
Generate commitment from school to get dog bite prevention into the curriculum
Adults can learn appropriate behaviour to protect themselves, teach children, serve as examples to others
Active adults very important such as cyclists, joggers and golfers as increased exposure to dogs. Can provide dog bite prevention information to recreational facilities
Target adults with children that are active
Elderly have an increased susceptibility. In addition older people often own dogs that have not been socialised around children. Dog bite prevention information can be provided through community services, centres etc. Targeting grandparents with dogs.
Victims can be provided with information on dog bite prevention at hospital.
Need to educate owners that in addition to providing food and water, dog care involves providing appropriate veterinary care, licensing and providing training.
Pet Related Businesses: Responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention information can be provided to dog owners through:
Dog Trainers (provide incentives to attend such as reduced licence fees, vaccination coupons, food coupons)
Animal shelter to provide classes to prospective owners
Media: A dog management programme needs a spokesperson provided with media training, this person should be able to turn a dog bite incident into a dog bite prevention opportunity
This is crucial for sustainability, it needs to be clear but not restrictive and provide a framework that rewards responsible ownership. It can also help tackle problems of commercial supply i.e. dog breeding
Registration and identification clearly connects owners and pets, is crucial for reunification and provides a basis for law enforcement
All dogs must be licensed (This policy requires government subsidies for low-income dog-owners)
A license shall be issued after payment of a fee. The size of this fee needs to be carefully controlled as large fees will lead to poor registration rates. If the cost is too high it may be a disincentive for owners and community carers. A fee-classification system should be introduced:
Reduced fee for low-income dog owners
Reduced fee for de-sexed dogs.
Reduced fee for dogs owned by elderly people.
Fee-exemption for dogs registered as guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, or other dogs that perform a service for people in need.
Reduced fee if dog-owners pay for more than one year of registration.
Fee for all other dogs that do not meet the above criteria.
Reduced fee for dog owners enrolled on responsible dog ownership initiatives
Upon acceptance of the license application and fee, the licensing authority should issue a durable license tag including an identifying number, year of issuance, city, county, and province. This license tag must be attached to the collar of the dog and worn at all times.
The Licensing authority should develop and manage a database to store information on all licences issued and for this to be accessible by relevant personnel within the local authority’s dog management team, veterinary profession, police and both government and non-government dog shelters.
Dog-owners should be allowed to register more than one dog per household
Revenue from licensing should be used for Responsible Pet Ownership and Dog Bite Prevention programmes
Permits should be employed to control the breeding and sale of dogs
No person should operate an animal establishment or sell animals without first obtaining a permit from the governing authority
Annual permits should be issued upon payment of a fee depending upon the type of establishment:
Kennel Fee (classification system for size of the establishment)
Pet shop fee
Other animal establishment fee
No permit fee should be required of any animal shelter.
Issuance and revocation of permits and licenses
The governing authority should have the right to revoke any permit or license if the holder fails to comply with the regulations, and the governing authority should be permitted to inspect the establishment.
NEUTERING AND CONTRACEPTION
This is often assumed to be the mainstay of dog population management. It is an important tool, but certainly not the only one, and needs to be TARGETED
Capture, Neuter, Release will only be suitable in specific locations, and it is best to involve owners and the whole community to identify where the dogs are coming from and so deal with the problem at its source.
Target dogs reproducing most successfully (usually owned)
Target dogs whose offspring are more likely to become stray
Target females for neutering. It only requires a few males to impregnate females, so neutering even a sizeable proportion of male population may have no effect on population size. However, it can be beneficial to neuter young males to reduce problematic behaviour.
Involve the owners and the community
It is necessary to cover the costs of such programmes therefore governing authorities should be careful not to give too much for free and hence devalue veterinary services
It is necessary to ensure the existence of appropriate veterinary capacity within your authority. If this capacity does not exist, resources are required to increase the capacity on a permanent basis and ensure the management programmes to de-sex and vaccinate both owned and non-owned dogs can be carried out effectively.
Minimum veterinary standards must be reached to maintain public confidence, and minimise complications.
Hopes for non-surgical sterilisation- must be used with owner consent (risk of complications so not suitable for unowned dogs), by well trained professionals (need good anatomical knowledge to target injection) and are yet to be completely tested. Hormonal contraception- needs to be repeated frequently and high risk of complications from long-term use
The owner of every dog should be held responsible for the behaviour of their dog.
All dog-owners should carry bags to collect dog faeces and are required to pick up dog faeces at all times.
All dogs should be kept under control in public areas.
Every “dangerous” dog, as determined by the governing authority, should be safely confined by their owner and securely muzzled whenever in public. (Owners of dogs showing aggressive behaviour should also be instructed to have their dogs de-sexed and socialised where possible.)
No dog should be allowed to cause a nuisance.
Dog owners should ensure that their dog carries identification at all times in the form of microchip, tag, or other means to allow easy determination of the owners.
A dog-owner found not meeting these conditions should receive a monetary fine and/or subsequent ban on keeping dogs.
HOLDING FACILITIES AND REHOMING
The provision of financial resources to operate an effective holding and rehoming facility for unowned and abandoned dogs. This facility will require a management plan that ensures the welfare of homeless dogs, the development of a high success rate of re-homing, identification and management of curable diseases and prevention of spread within the local population, and high standards of euthanasia for dogs with incurable illnesses, suffering from untreatable injuries or major behavioural problems that prevent them being rehomed.
Shelters will not solve the roaming dog problem and may even make it worse by enabling abandonment, they are very expensive to run and they will need clear policies on neutering, euthanasia, capacity and rehoming.
This is an important component of a programme but must be selective and use humane methods. It is not a solution to population control in itself but may be required for dogs suffering from incurable illness, injury or behaviour problem that prevents them being rehomed.
With appropriate facilities and capacity roaming dogs should be impounded and confined in a humane manner. The owners of dogs with identification should be notified and conditions of collection explained. If an owned/identified dog is found roaming the authority should initially serve the owner with a notice of violation before impounding the animal.
Dogs that are not claimed within a set period should become the property of the shelter and if appropriate become available for adoption.
If the authorities find dogs to be suffering, they should remove them and place them in a holding centre at the owner’s expense or to be humanely euthanised if necessary to prevent further suffering.
Disposal of an animal on humane grounds should not relieve the owner of liability for violations and any accrued charges.
All dogs for adoption should be neutered and an adoption fee paid. In addition costs of vaccination, licensing, and additional veterinary costs may be included.
Penalties should be used to prevent animal cruelty and to enforce regulations
Dog-owners, breeders and sellers who mistreat or abandon their dogs should be subject to a fine and prohibition from raising, breeding or selling dogs for a set time period.
Dog-owners, who allow their dogs to act aggressively towards people and other dogs, should be subject to a fine and a ban on dog ownership if necessary.
Penalties should also be operated for people who fail to obtain a licence and establishment that fail to obtain a permit.
Dog-walking areas should be designated in public parks.
Development of a minimum welfare standard for dog-breeders and sellers.
Development of a minimum welfare standard for dog-owners, to ensure they care for their dog appropriately and do not abuse or abandon their dog.
MANAGEMENT OF ROAMING DOGS
Controlling access to resources
As part of a well managed and resourced dog management programmes, which has identified and is tackling the source of roaming dogs effectively, access to resources for roaming dogs can be gradually removed. This has to be carried out gradually to avoid dogs starving. It should also be combined with education or enforcement to reduce littering and feeding.
VACCINATION AND PARASITE CONTROL
Offering preventative treatments can be a good way to engage owners in other aspects of a dog management programme – particularly when they see the benefits. It can improve the overall health of the population and involves local veterinary infrastructure, but be careful not to offer too much for free and risk ‘devaluing’ the veterinary community.
One method is to use a vaccination ‘camps’ they need to be well advertised, and carry a risk of disease transmission
All dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. (This policy requires government subsidies for low-income dog-owners and help from the local veterinary community to offer services to dog-owners.)
Mass vaccination of the dog population is enough to eliminate rabies …
All dogs shall be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian and issued with a certificate and a durable vaccination tag indicating the year in which it was issued. A vaccination tag should be attached to the collar of the dog and worn at all times.
Vaccination has been demonstrated to be effective in eliminating rabies, irrespective of dog population management or supplementary control measures.
For example: In 1983, the countries of the Americas, with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), pledged to eliminate human rabies transmitted by dogs. 42 million dogs vaccinated every year.
Most vaccinated animals (75%) are from Brazil (17 million) and Mexico (16 million), with the largest canine populations- largely surpassed the goal of 80%. By 2003, 91% decline in human rabies and 93% decline in dog rabies.
Rabies control can be achieved through mass dog vaccination alone and this should be prioritised.
If your objective is rabies control – mass dog vaccination is the ‘first defence’ and should be the priority for resource allocation. Additional dog population management can be beneficial and can help ensure the sustainability of rabies control.
Rapid turn over of dog populations (high birth and death rate) has been a major obstacle to successful rabies control in developing countries. Reduce population turnover, hence maintain vaccination coverage for longer.
Reduce number of unowned stray dogs which may be more difficult to access for vaccination.
Increase ‘value’ of individual dogs hence owners may make more effort to get their dog vaccinated.
Be sure that the additional interventions do not slow down or impede mass vaccination.
For government bodies and NGOs involved in dog population management.
Assess population management needs and determine the most effective and resource-efficient approach