Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Catch,Neuter & Release Vs Euthanasia


PAFi is a registered Finnish animal protection association founded in 2005 by Kiia Vasko. PAFi operates on a grass root-level, focusing its support on one small cooperation partner at a time. PAFi helps to improve the situation of animals locally by e.g. reducing the stray animal population through spaying & neutering programs and by educating the local people to take responsibility for animals. PAFi doesn’t provide animals for adoption to Finland from any other countries.

Pro Animals Romania is an animal protection association founded by Carmena Serbanoiu and her daughter Patricia Paraschiv. Since 1999 Pro Animals Romania has been running an old dog shelter of Tg-Jiu without any support from the city. In addition to maintaining the shelter of 400+ dogs, Pro Animals Romania takes care of all animal protection-related issues of Gorj County. Since the current shelter isn’t suitable for taking care of animals and the city also wants the lot for more profitable use, Pro Animals Romania is searching for a new site and hopes to raise enough funds for a new, modern animal welfare centre. PAFi and Pro Animals Romania have cooperated closely since 2005. The first cooperation project was a neutering campaign
in August 2006. The long-term key-projects include a sponsor dog programme to ensure the everyday welfare of the shelter dogs, therapy dog programme aimed at the elderly people, education
programme in local schools and at the University of Tg-Jiu and spaying & neutering programmes to reduce the number of stray dogs. Both associations do their best to develop the cooperation with the local authorities on animal welfare-related matters and improve the situation of animals in Romania.

Stray dogs are either ”owned” by someone and allowed to roam the streets or they have been abandoned to the streets. Street dogs are so-called ”wild dogs” that are most likely to born, live and die on the streets. There are also so-called community dogs that the members of communities feed and give some kind of a shelter to. Usually these dogs wouldn’t survive the winter without care from these people. Generally we are speaking of stray dogs.

The controlling of stray dog population can be observed from the point of view of both human and animal welfare. The human welfare point of view is usually connected to the threat of spreading diseases and fear of being attacked and bitten by stray dogs. This fear is generally speaking groundless since the studies show clearly that pet dogs cause more biting injuries and more severe injuries than stray dogs. The animal welfare point of view is based on the fact that the diseases and deaths among the stray dog populations cause far too great suffering for the animals and is the reason for maintaining programmes that help the dogs and reduce the stray dog population.

The local culture and different kinds of fundamental views of values based on e.g. freedom, the right to exist and suffering have an impact on opinions. The cultural views can greatly influence e.g. the implementation of spaying & neutering projects and sometimes very much long-term planning is needed so the countries of a certain culture would be ready to embrace the idea of neutering an animal. It’s dangerous to follow blindly the western perception of dogs being meant only as pets for humans, supposing that it’s the only acceptable form for a dog to exist.

Though it’s true that the lifespan of a stray dog is shorter than the life of a well-cared pet, the length of life is not the only indicator of welfare. The quality of life of a free stray dog can be comparable or even better in comparison with many pets that lack this same kind of freedom. E.g. the stress is very common and prominent welfare problem among over-controlled pet dogs. Also the unethical issues related to breeding of purebred dogs as well as trend phenomena related to dogs are everyday in our world and cause the dogs both health and behavioural problems.

Dogs are creatures capable of thinking and sensing. The disregard of their suffering only because they are different species than us humans can’t be accepted. The humane controlling of stray dog populations is very justifiable since the increase of stray dogs is a direct consequence of people’s actions - meaning we have actually caused these problems.

Below are some views supporting the controlling of stray
dog populations:
1) The stray dogs are often considered as peeves and general concerns. They make noise, are a health risk and are avoided for the fear of being attacked.
2) The stray dogs often wander among the busy traffic causing accidents and damage to vehicles. Usually in accidents the dogs are injured, leaving crippled for the rest of their lives or having to suffer by the road until they die.
3) The tourists aren’t keen on encountering stray dogs on their holidays and under no circumstance do they wish to witness suffering, injured, dying or dead dogs.
4) The stray dog population grows very rapidly if it’s not controlled. One female stray dog can deliver on average 8 puppies a year during its lifetime. If the female dog lives past the age of 5, it has delivered approximately 40 new stray dogs. If there are 500 un-spayed female dogs running around in the area, they have delivered 20 000 puppies in just five years. And these puppies naturally continue to grow the population, too. When the local community has decided to take measures, series of ethical dilemmas usually occur. The first fundamental question is should they try to have an effect on the population by killing or regulating the birth rate.

1) Killing the stray dogs
2) Capturing stray dogs and placing them into shelters
3) Controlling the increase in stray dog population and thus
reducing their number

1) Killing the stray dogs Every year millions of stray dogs all over the world are poisoned, shot or in other ways eliminated by different kinds of authorities in order to reach the desired result: getting rid of the threat of stray dogs. These dogs are considered as vermin that must be destroyed.

Killing may sound effective – but perhaps a little uncomfortable
alternative to take care of the problem. However, closer observation reveals the harsh truth of the inefficiency of this“method”.
First of all, there is no cheap, inhumane way to kill dogs. The capturing of dogs and putting them down in inhumane ways is expensive and demands for such efficiency and carefulness that the areas having these problems simply cannot afford or even are willing or able to concentrate on. This usually leaves poisoning as the means, which causes danger to the community (pets, birds, cats, other animals and even children) and leads to an extremely painful and prolonged death.

Another killing method often used is shooting which can be done in areas with people nearby and performed by unprofessionals very often leaving the dogs to suffer in pain before dying. The method “one dog-one bullet” is generally used because it’s cheaper that way. Of course, this increases even more the possibility of the dog not dying instantly (or at
all). Even if stray dogs could be put down in a humane way, it still wouldn’t work. As long as the dogs have the possibility of finding food on the streets, from the garbage and landfills, they will always keep appearing to the “cleaned” areas over and over

It should also be paid attention to that in addition to killing millions of stray dogs on a yearly basis, in the US alone c. 4 million dogs and cats abandoned to the shelters are put down. A countless number of unwanted purebred dogs and cats are
included in this number.

2) Capturing stray dogs and placing them into shelters- Again at first this method sounds like a good idea and much more humane than killing. By collecting the stray dogs from the streets to shelters, the dogs can be taken care of and they are safe. However, soon the shelters are full and since there is no more room for the dogs still living on the streets, these dogs keep growing the stray dog population outside the shelters. More and more shelters should be built to meet the demand of the ever-increasing population. As you can see, the circle is endless making this method extremely expensive to maintain.

Also the crammed shelters would create new problems since only in rare occasions they would meet the adequate quality standards. Often shelters become “concentration camps” where animals are starving for water, food or the possibility to necessary medical care. In some countries stray dog shelters have very unethical business-based functions, and eliminating these actions seem to be an impossible task for local authorities as well as all other instances.

3) Removing the stray dog problem by spaying & neutering - Though this might seem like a very slow method to control the stray dog problem and no visible results can be seen instantly, the spaying & neutering programs are the only way that actually works.
The implementation of a spaying & neutering program is simple. The dogs are captured and taken to ”a neutering centre” where they are operated and at the same time also given proper
vaccination e.g. against rabies and other contagious diseases. The dogs are marked so in future it would be easy to spot the dogs that have already been operated. When the dogs have recovered, they are released back to where they were found.

There are several reasons supporting the controlling of stray dog population by spaying & neutering. Here are some of them:
* The studies show that killing doesn’t reduce the number of stray dogs in a long run since the whole population is impossible to eliminate and there will always be new stray dogs. The remaining dogs and dogs coming to the area from other places will reproduce even faster than before since they have plenty of space and more food to share. The stray dogs that come from other areas can also bring diseases and may be more menacing before getting familiar with their new living environment than the dogs that were eliminated from the area.
* Capturing, keeping and killing of stray dogs are often done in very cruel and completely inhumane ways. These cause the dogs a great deal of pain and suffer.
* Both Emanuel Kant and Mahatma Gandhi have wisely concluded that the cruel treatment of animals will inevitably lead to cruelty against people and this view is also supported by criminological studies (e.g. Kellert and Felthous).
* The killing of stray dogs ignores the fact that stray dogs may have a meaning e.g. to some poorer people. These people don’t have the luxury of keeping dogs as pets but the dogs still receive some level of basic care from these people.
* It’s been studied that spayed & neutered stray dogs behave much more peaceful towards each other as well as people. Solely the fact that male dogs don’t have to fight for the female dogs in heat will make the dogs calmer.
* The risk of contagious diseases decreases remarkably along with spaying & neutering and vaccinations.
* The risk of a female stray dog getting mammary tumours decreases by spaying.

With spaying & neutering programs also the human welfare
is developed
Well-planned and implemented spaying & neutering programs provide a solution to improving both human and animal welfare. These programs require that local authorities and communities to accept and understand the fact that problems will be solved only by doing long-term cooperation. Education on animal protection and welfare is needed so the authorities and locals would understand the overall meaning of welfare that could inevitably be gained by spaying & neutering programs.

It’s good to remember that it’s not always easy to find the balance between the welfare of individuals and much larger success stories that lead to visible benefits. The financial resources and circumstances in spaying & neutering programs are nearly always very limited and they should always be carefully considered in order to meet the standards of animal welfare. The success demands for relentless cooperation between all participants.

Source materials:
Beck A.M.; The ecology of stray dogs: a study of free-ranging urban animals.
Borcheit P.L.; Aggressive behaviour of dogs kept as companion animals:
classification and influence of sex, reproductive status and breed.
Brown D.; Cultural Attitudes Towards Pets Symposium on the Human Companion
Animal Pond.
BSAVA; Manual of Canine Behavior
Dye C. Serengeti ; Wild dogs – what really happened?
Poulton J.; Is man really a dog’s best friend?
Serpell J.; Pets and the development of positive attitudes to animals.
Singer P.; Neither human nor natural; ethics and feral animals.
The State Animal Welfare Board West; Bengal and the Vets Club Calcutta
Guidelines on Animal Birth Control Programmes in stray dogs recommended
WHO; Guidelines for dog rabies control and Guidelines for dog population
Wright J. C;. Canine Aggressions Towards People.
WSPA; Pet Respect News, Stray Dog Control.

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