Surgery days at the Caye Caulker Humane Society are a lot like parties where everyone winds up passed out at the end. The dogs play and play and play and then get anesthesia. Today was no different. Lots of playing and socializing and a few less puppies down the road. All good news! And as usual, we had lots of cute patients. Here’s just a peek at the action:
Brian is a good natured gentleman of no fixed address. He loves to meet new friends from around the world and can often be seen guiding tourists around the island, showing them the sights of Caye Caulker. I assume he makes his living in eggs scrambled in vacation cottage kitchens and restaurant left-overs. If you see him, buy him a meal and he may tell you about some of his amazing adventures.
Every Saturday morning from 9 – 11 AM the Humane Society holds a clinic for island animals. Today was a busy one! Here are some highlights:
Three sisters who had been wandering around stray were reunited. Two have been adopted by clinic volunteer Preston and his family and we have our fingers crossed on the third.
A big basket of puppies came in for their second set of shots and worming. They’re sure growing fast!
These two look like little stuffed toys but they’re real dogs. They also needed puppy shots and worming.
And Bessina got a bath and treatment for some skin problems.
Angelle can be found with her person Paulette at the Red Flower Gallery across the road from China Town market. She enthusiastically greets gallery visitors by jumping up and down with glee and yipping excitedly.
Angelle is a puppy-mill rescue dog originally from Minnesota, now enjoying the warmth of Caye Caulker life.
After a long hiatus, Dogs of Caye Caulker is back. There are lots of new dogs on the caye and some old favorites that we hope to catch up with so there’s work to do! Here’s some of what’s going on in the dog world on Caye Caulker:
The Caye Caulker Humane Society recently organized another spay / neuter event. It wasn’t quite as big a production as the big Helping Paws Beyond Borders event in October but it was a great success!
Dr. Holly Gill and vet tech Jess generously spent 2 of their precious vacation days volunteering at the CCHS clinic spaying and neutering cats and dogs and checking up injured and sick pets. We sure appreciated it since the regular vet, Dr. Zeke has been out of the country for a few months!
And finally, there was a litter of tiny puppies that Sandy is fostering that came in to be checked on by the vet. It was too hard to choose just one shot of them:
The Barrier Reef Sports bar has a new owner and the owner, Scott, has a new BFF!
Shortly after moving to Caye Caulker and taking over the Sports Bar Scott adopted Phin. Now Phin is on staff full time ready to greet you when you come in for a beer or a meal, to play trivia or listen to the Friday afternoon Jam.
You can like the Sports Bar on Facebook and send notes pressuring Scott to post more photos of the adorable Phin. And don’t forget to take a photo with him when you visit!
Using poison to control the stray dog population is bad public health.
We all understand the problems caused by an out-of-control dog population. Stray dogs and dogs who are not controlled and cared for by their owners lead to attacks on people and other animals, unsanitary conditions caused by garbage bags being torn open and overpopulation of dogs when they are not spayed and neutered and are allowed to run wild.
Poisoning dogs may seem like a quick, easy and relatively cheap solution. But it doesn’t work, and it’s bad for the community. It would be much more effective for local authorities to enforce existing animal control laws (like leash requirements) and implement (and enforce) policies that will protect humans and dogs such as pet registration and encouragement of spaying and neutering.
Poisoning is dangerous, cruel and, in the end, does not work.
Poisoning is not an effective long-term method of reducing the population of stray dogs
While spay and neuter programs reduce dogs populations long term, in areas where dog have been poisoned, the stray dog population returns to its original size in about a year. According to the organization Vetwork in the UK:
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recognises that slaughter often produces a short term effect. Even maximal catching rates (up to 24% of dog population per year) make no significant impact. Where dogs are removed others migrate into the area to fill the ecological niche.” (1)
In a project in Australia using poisoned meatballs to control wild dogs, “populations returned to their initial abundance within 1 year.” (2)
Poisoning dogs is a short-term solution that, in the end, is not an effective way to control the population of stray and poorly cared for dogs.
Dog Poisoning poses a hazard to people, pets and other wildlife
In addition to killing targeted dogs, poisoning is dangerous for people, pets and other wildlife. In one wild dog poisoning project and study in Australia it was found that the unconsumed poisoned bate remains a hazard to animals and humans for up to 8 months, whether it is in an area that gets rained on or not (3).
Poison that is not eaten by dogs at the time of the poisoning can kill wildlife, pet dogs or children who find it long after it’s been set out.
Also, strychnine does not have to be eaten to kill. It can poison animals and people by getting in to the ground water, being inhaled if released in the air or absorbed through mucus membranes. It is not safe to have strychnine uncontrolled in our community.
Dog poisoning is unnecessarily cruel
Strychnine, the poison used to eradicate dogs causes a slow and painful death. Whether ingested by the stray dog who is targeted, the family pet who accidentally eats the poisoned meat or, god forbid, the child who is playing in an area where poisoned bate is left, only a small amount of the poison is required to cause death.
Before dying from strychnine poisoning a dog – or human – experiences extremely painful convulsions and muscle spasms and eventually dies, slowly, from suffocation. (4)
In comparison, euthanizing problem dogs by injection is quick, painless and safe for the community.
What does work to control the dog population?
The population of stray and uncontrolled dogs can be managed and we are able to do it right now. According to the ASPCA, spay and neuter programs are the only way to effectively reduce the population of unwanted animals long term (5).
Here on Caye Caulker we are fortunate to have an excellent Humane Society which is ready and equipped to not only humanely euthanize problem dogs but, more importantly to spay and neuter dogs and cats which will keep the population down long term. The Caye Caulker Humane Society spays and neuters regardless of a person’s ability to pay for the service and spays and neuters both stray and owned dogs.
By enforcing the current leash laws and using that enforcement as an opportunity to educate people about the effectiveness and availability of spaying and neutering, the CCVC could create lasting change in overpopulation of stray dogs on Caye Caulker while safeguarding the health and safety of the people of the island and their beloved pets. The CCVC could also work with the Humane Society to identify dangerous dogs and humanely euthanize them.
Caye Caulker Village is a small community and a spay and neutering education campaign would be fairy easy and cost effective.
Do any of us want to be back here in a year, or two or three, discussing the effectiveness of poisoning and its potential hazard to our community again when the stray dog population has recovered to its current size or bigger? It’s time for a long term, safe and effective policy for animal control on Caye Caulker.