A stray dog on the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Suffering in Slums: The global stray dog problem
The stray dog problem is a truly global issue - at this very moment there are millions of dogs on the streets and in slums, outside in all weather, with nothing to call home other than the bare dirty pavement. They fight over the limited amounts of food available and suffer from agonizing diseases such as rabies and distemper.
In many countries the majority of stray dogs have been abandoned by their owners or are owned but allowed to roam freely. These dogs then breed, resulting in unwanted puppies.
With a lack of knowledge and resources, communities in developing countries frequently resort to cruel methods of population control like poisoning, electrocution and shooting. These methods are inhumane, causing the
animals great pain and suffering. They are also ineffective in the long term as they do not address the cause of the problem.
Of the estimated 500
million dogs in the world,
approximately 75% are strays
Without resources for treatment and education about responsible pet ownership, the stray population will keep growing and countless numbers of dogs will continue to suffer in the slums.
Our international partner, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is working in some of the poorest nations of the world to make a difference for stray dogs. In collaboration with the global network of member societies, they are providing practical humane solutions to local communities in countries like:
- India - At least 20,000 people in India die each year from rabies, spread in part by the country’s 30 million stray dogs - 45,000 of which live in the city of Jodphur. WSPA is supporting the Marwar Animal Protection Trust (MAPT) in a large scale Animal Birth Control (ABC) program to humanely reduce the dog population in Jodhpur. Over the past four years they have caught, sterilised, vaccinated and released on average 10,000 dogs per year. They have also provided education on rabies prevention in schools and through puppet shows in low-income areas.
- Sierra Leone - As a result of widespread and extreme poverty, the dogs in Sierra Leone suffer terribly from starvation and disease. Freetown, the country’s capital, has one of the highest population densities of stray dogs in the whole of Africa - around 100,000. WSPA is working with the Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society (SLAWS) to provide education on responsible ownership as well as neutering and vaccination services to those dogs whose owners have no other access to veterinary care for their
animals. They are also working with the local government authorities to help them take an active role in dog and rabies management.
Girl with her pet dog, awaiting
treatment at the mobile clinic
- Colombia - In the city of Cali, approximately 85% of the total companion animal population are owned pets. WSPA and member society Paraiso de la Mascota are running a project that provides humane education programs on responsible pet ownership for children and adults, and a mobile clinic where owners can bring their pets. Before the organizations got involved in 2003, the government of Cali was catching dogs at night and killing them by electrocution. Now the government works with Paraiso de la Mascota to provide education materials and low-cost sterilization to dog owners in low-income areas.
Working together with local groups, the WSPA Member Society Network has shown that a humane and comprehensive approach - taking into account animal welfare and human responsibility - can be effective in managing stray populations. To find out more about WSPA, please visit: http://www.wspa-usa.org/