Teamwork, Innovation – Street Dogs, Dog Population Management

by Mary Haight on September 30, 2012

dog population managementTeamwork and innovation are the heartbeat of many good companies, and this is also true for public agencies, private health providers and non-governmental organizations involved in animal welfare. In a recent trip to Peru, I observed the populations of street dogs and partnerships formed to help them between international volunteer vets, a not-for-profit and city and village governments, so I was excited to learn more about the 1st International Dog Population Management Conference. Had I known about it, I would have wanted to be there and here’s why.

Collaboration to End Needless Suffering

There is a global and growing population of street dogs. Problems arise not only in the health and welfare of animals and people living with these conditions, but also in how members of the community react to the animals. In some countries, cruelty is common. When governments are unable to meet the financial demands of street dog management or offer sustainable, publicly acceptable ideas on how to control this growth, bad things can happen. Note the continuing problems with Moscow’s strays, widely reported in 2009. Now, dogs are being poisoned by internet organized gangs of dog hunters in Moscow – just the other week there were 70 dogs who died by poisoning reported by the Huffington Post. This type of cruelty happens to street dogs in many parts of the world. When I saw the headline for the 1st International Dog Population Management Conference, I was hopeful.

Innovation and Interdisciplinary Sharing

Public health experts, veterinarians, wildlife ecologists, ethologists, animal welfare organizations and epidemiologists from 36 countries attended the three day working part of conference held in the UK, sharing case studies and results across disciplines. What an excellent learning experience it must have been! The introduction in the Programme mentioned the task was to “bring the public sector together with ecologists, economists, specialists in animal welfare, health and education” to address dog population management (DPM). Teamwork like this can touch all aspects of the environment and culture where DPM is needed, leading to more likely positive outcomes and sustainable results. These are big ideas and will take time to have an effect.

The conference was co-organized by:

  • Fera – Food and Environment Research Agency
  • WHO – World Health Organisation
  • OIE – World Organisation for Animal Health
  • RSPCA – The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • WSPA – World Society for the Protection of Animals
  • IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • HSI – Humane Society International

IFAW’s Companion Animal Programme Director, Kate Nattrass Atema, was their representative at this conference, worked on the Steering Committee and chaired a session. You can find her post on the conference here. The sharing of ideas, data and initiatives on non-surgical sterilization, zoonoses along with attitudes towards dogs as mentioned in Kate Atema’s post, is a good start. The conferences will meet only every two to three years, but I hope we’ll get more updates on successes and hiccups along the way. Atema introduced, with John Friar of the Wise Monkey Foundation, “a system that will allow IFAW to collect data, in real-time, from [sic] our community dog and cat projects.” That would make updates possible. And since this is my blog, I will add: What a dream job she has!!


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