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Bangkok Post

Dog Junior

Catch, neuter, release

Three simple words to control the stray animal population
*Photo by SUCHADA HONGSA (Bangkok Post Newpaper)

As the population of stray dog and cats in Thailand Continues to increase, many kind-hearted animal lovers have ' addressed the satuation by adopting stays. However, though that has helped the situation a bit, the future of homeless cats and dogs is not bright.

It is common to see people feeding strays. Though it is a praiseworthy effort it can trigger a few problems.

"Don't feed packs of dogs unless you are prepared to sterilise them as well. 5/Vell-fed dogs produce bigger litters. This leads to more puppies living on the streets, so your good intentions might be exacerbating thjlproblem," said Sherry Conisbee, founder and president of Scad, formerly Soi Dog Rescue.

 According to Conisbee, running a shelter is not an option for individuals in any community unless unlimited funding is available. And unlimited funding is not easy to acquire.

 She herself advocates "CNR" (catch, neuter, release) and caring for animals in the community since it is more sustainable.

 "Neutering dogs not only has health benefits for the animals and prevents litters being born, but it stops some of the behaviour considered a nuisance in residential neighbourhoods. Neutering both the males and females results in a reduction of numbers and a stable, rabies-free pack 9f dogs that don't cause as much nuisance," she said.

 Not only stray dogs but owned pets need to be neutered alike.

 "Neutering of owned pets is just as important. It is roaming, unsterilised owned pets that are contributing to the stray dog population. The message is clear: Neuter pets and don't allow them to roam whether sterilised or not. Community care-givers should all spread the message about being responsible pet owners/' she added.

According to Conisbee, as research and years of experience in Thailand proves, removing animals to a shelter has no long-term effect on the number of dogs since the reduction in numbers IS very short-lived

 "Within a matter of days, weeks or months, More dogs migrate in from neighbouring areas to fill the vacuum and take advartfage of available food and shelter. They soon breed, and before long numbers are back to previous levels and the whole spiral of suffering starts all over again. So someone else builds a shelter to house them, which soon becomes overcrowded and unable to support itself, and so on ...," she said.

 Before starting the neutering crusade, it is necessary for all animal care-givers to learn more about the benefits to the dogs and the outcomes to the community of a comprehensive CNR (catch-neuter-return) project, which include sterilisation, vaccination and education about responsible pet ownership.

 Remember, the campaign can t be done all alone. It is necessary to seek help from the community since the mission is somewhat back-breaking and it demands sustainable support from the locality because homeless animals have to live side by side with the community.

 "Talk with neighbours or monks and find out if they would support a spay/neuter project to control the numbers and stop nuisance behaviours. Plan a campaign but understand that not everyone loves dogs and you have to take their vieพร into consideration as well for the project to be successful," she suggested.

 The best place to start might be the temples, one of the top places where dogs and cats are dumped.

 "Successful temple and community projects exist in which caring people dedicate their time to making the dogs already in that temple or community healthy, parasite free, (disease free and unable to breed. The nuns, monks or community care-givers learn how best to care for the animals to ensure they are healthy and able to live peaceably alongside the community. Dumping of pups is — or should be — discouraged and responsible pet ownership encouraged," she said.

 Communication is also the key to making the campaign run smoothly. Many people might give homeless animals a second chance at life if they knew more about the benefits of neutering and they might join forces to curb the overpopulation of stray animals.

 "Keep the community informed of what you are trying to achieve. Provide leaflets about the information on your project and your goals. Ask for their support with supplies, food, money and transport to the vet," she added.

 Don't forget: Two heads are better than one. It requires strong, dedicated teamwork to fight the stray problem. 7 "Working alone is always far more difficult than forming small working groups to lobby and advocate on behalf of the strays. Work as a team and remember to be nice and neighbourly to all — animal? and people alike!" she advised.

 Apart from local people, local vets also play a vital role in supporting the campaign. Many dog keepers can't help save all dogs under their care because the medical expenses are often beyond their ability to pay.

 "Get support if possible from local vets to help with free neutering of strays or low-cost neutering of owned pets. Not ฝ! are able to lend support, so be prepared to accept that. It is, after all, not their responsibility to deal with the stray dog population," she said.

 Although many neutered animals are allowed to live in the community, the care-givers should take care of them in a more appropriate manner , especially when it comes to the feeding routine. Leftovers can cause a series of pollutions for the community and it can lead to the human-and-animal problem, threatening the safety and welfare of the strays since they might be evicted from the community.

 "If you do have a feeding programme, make sure it's clean. There's nothing worse than to anger residents with piles of rice and slop lying on the ground, attracting flies and scavengers. Practice 'clean feeding^ techniques — in bowls, if possible, away from thoroughfares used by people. Clear up after, suggested Conisbee.

 However, neutering can^ completely eradicate the stray problem. Education is a key to solving the long-term challenge of stray dog overpopulation, according to Conisbee.

 "It might be more beneficial in your neighbourhood to concentrate on educational messages, perhaps with help of your local temple: Don't dump pets, they have feelings, they need to be cared for for life, how to care for a dog properly, neuter pets, and benefits of sterilisation, she explained.


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