Human Negligence, A Contributing Factor To Stray Dogs

SPCA and other animal welfare organisations believe that it is because of human negligence, dogs have become the talk of the town. It has taken a tragedy to bring attention to the growing animal control issue the country is facing
20 Jun 2019 12:41
Human Negligence, A Contributing Factor To Stray Dogs
The Ministry of Agriculture has set up dog traps in parts of Lautoka. This is part of the ministry’s intensive Stray Dog Campaign in major towns and cities. Photo: Ministry of Agriculture

The warning signs have been there for some time, but the issue of stray dogs was being taken lightly until now.

Attacks by dogs on people and even animals brought the issue into light. It started with the attack in Nadi when stray dogs attacked two-year-old Amari Whippy. Then last week a kindergarten student was bitten and other stories of dog attacks have come to light.

Dogs roaming the streets is a common sight in Fiji. Calls have come from rural areas about dogs killing farm animals such as goats and chicken.

Natural survival instincts will kick in when the need for food arises.

According to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the alarm bells are ringing.

SPCA chair Seema Deo said SPCA and other animal welfare organisations around the nation have been sounding the alarm for years.

She said the problem was not the dogs, but people.

“The Government and the private sector need to join hands and work towards solving the problem of irresponsible pet owners and resultant stray populations,” Ms Deo said.

“In response to the national call for input to the Budget, SPCA this year submitted a proposal to the Government for a nationwide approach to addressing the stray dog (and cat) population through a targeted public education campaign combined with de-sexing clinics made possible through volunteer veterinarians and adequate medical supplies.”

Ms Deo said it has taken a tragedy to bring attention to the growing animal control issue the country is facing.

“The SPCA commends the Prime Minister’s recent statement in addressing the stray dog population in a humane manner with options for sheltering and rehoming,” she said.

“However, we urge that a considered approach be taken, in consultation with veterinarians and animal welfare organisations, so that resources expended will have long-term reach and impact. We further urge that poisoning not be considered as a form of animal control and we strongly caution the public against taking matters into their own hands.”

SPCA and other animal welfare organisations believe that it is because of human negligence, dogs have become the talk of the town.

According to the Dogs Act 1971 when a person takes on ownership of a dog, there should be an immediate acceptance of responsibility for that dog.  For any offspring it may produce, for the duration of its life or until a subsequent owner is found.

The Act also outlines that the owner should ensure that the welfare of the dog, including behavioural needs, are respected and the dog is protected, as far as possible, from infectious diseases and from unwanted reproduction through contraception or sterilisation.

It also states that all reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that the dog does not roam out of control in a manner that would pose a problem to the community and/or the environment.

“We remind all citizens to take your responsibility as pet owners seriously. Have your male and female dogs (and cats) de-sexed. Male dogs tend to roam and become aggressive during mating season. This can be prevented by a simple operation conducted by a vet,” said Ms Deo.

It has been proven in other countries that the de-sexing programme works in controlling dog population. The norm in Fiji is that people like to have pets, but do not keep their dogs as such. There is negligence regarding the dog’s health and bigger than that is the failure by most owners to provide homes for the offspring of their dogs.

They are abandoned and this eventually an increase to the stray dog population.

Scientific data shows one unsterilised female can produce 30 to 45 puppies in a year. These puppies will then breed and move to surrounding neighbourhoods where there is often a large source of food waste. This best explains why there is garbage scattered in some neighbourhoods.

The SPCA has been working closely with the Suva City Council and the Ministry of Animal Health and Production on de-sexing and stray animal rehoming.

“We will be monitoring the current trapping campaign and look forward to meeting with the Government and other partners in the private sector towards securing the much-needed resources for humane animal management in Fiji,” Ms Deo said.

Fiji even has dog laws. It came into effect in 1971 and is called the Dogs Act. The law highlight what a dog owner should be doing, licensing and who the licensing authority is. In Fiji it is the SPCA.

There is also a clause in the Dogs Act which allows authorities to destroy dogs which have not been claimed by owners.

At the end of the day, the only solution to controlling stray dogs’ population is de-sexing the dogs and people of Fiji changing their ways in the way they look after their dogs.

The message from SPCA is simple De-sex your dog if you are not ready to look after its offspring.

And dog owners beware, as the trapping programme initiated by the Government has started.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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