THE STERILISATION PROJECT
The aim of this project is to sterilise as many companion animals as possible throughout the country. The results of this project will ensure a reduction in the numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens and a decline in the number of irresponsible pet ownerships.
A recent meeting was held with Dr Manyetu of the Department of Veterinary Services regarding the sterilization programme. Dr Manyetu suggested that we start in the Goromonzi area as recently there had been an outbreak of rabies and two people had died.
A survey was done, local chiefs, the DA and Village Heads were all visited and welcomed the programme.
Our Inspectors have since returned twice and 158 dogs have been dipped and de-wormed, along with 5 goats also were de-wormed and 2 donkeys de-wormed. Donkey harnesses were also distributed, and the owners were educated on the care of their donkeys. We will be returning soon when we have received all our necessary medicines for this project, along with Dr Manyetu and his team to begin the sterilization programme.
Sterilisation and contraception
The control of reproduction through permanent sterilisation or temporary contraception can be achieved through three main methods.
a. Surgical: The removal of reproductive organs under general anaesthetic ensures permanent sterilisation and can significantly reduce sexual behaviour (especially if performed early in an animals development)
b. Physical contraception through the isolation of females in oestrus(heat) from entire males: Owners can be educated to recognise the signs of a female dog coming into oestrus and can plan to ensure the female is isolated from entire males during this period. Attention must be paid to the welfare of both the female and males when planning how to isolate the female. Sexual behaviour can become problematic as males will try and gain access to females, however, isolation requires minimum cost to achieve and does not require a trained veterinary surgeon.
Population management is an area of concern for all of us due to the welfare problems, including:
- injury through traffic accidents
- injury through fighting
- abusive treatment
Attempts to control the population may also present significant welfare problems, including:
- inhumane methods of killing such as strychnine poisoning, electrocution and drowning
- cruel methods of catching
- poorly equipped and managed holding facilities.
Whether reducing the size of a roaming dog population is considered necessary will, to some extent, be subjective. In each situation there will be some people willing to tolerate roaming dogs and others who will not. For example some members of the public and government authorities are concerned with public health and safety problems associated with roaming dog populations, including:
- transmission of disease to humans (zoonoses) and other animals
- injury and fear caused by aggressive behaviour
- nuisance through noise and fouling
- livestock predation
- causing of road traffic accidents
Responsible animal ownership
It is a principle of animal welfare that owners have a duty to provide sufficient and appropriate care for all their animals and their offspring. This ‘duty of care’ requires owners to provide the resources (e.g. food, water, health care and social interaction) necessary for an individual dog to maintain an acceptable level of health and well-being in its environment – the Five Freedoms serve as a useful guide. Owners also have a duty to minimise the potential risk their dog may pose to the public and other animals. In some countries this is a legal requirement.
Factors influencing dog population size
1. Human attitudes and behaviour
Aim – To encourage responsible ownership
Human behaviour is likely to be the most powerful force behind dog population dynamics. The encouraging of responsible and rewarding human-animal interactions will lead to both an improvement in animal welfare and a reduction in many of the sources of roaming dogs. The owned dog population may be found to be a significant source of roaming dogs and may suffer from many preventable welfare problems, and human behaviour towards dogs will be the driving force behind these problems.
Several issues need to be considered when exploring human attitudes and behaviour.
a. Local beliefs and attitudes may affect human behaviour towards dogs. It may be possible to address these beliefs to change behavioural outcomes. For example, a belief that sterilisation will cause negative behavioural changes in dogs can be addressed through education and examples of sterilised dogs in the community, so encouraging owners to seek sterilisation for their dogs.
b. Keep messages about human behaviour consistent. The intervention should encourage responsible and rewarding human-animal interactions. For example, demonstrating respectful and caring handling of dogs will help encourage empathetic and respectful attitudes in the local population. One should watch out for any elements of the intervention that could be seen to encourage irresponsible or careless behaviour.
c. Because human behaviour is such a key factor of success, it is important that owners are not only aware of interventions but fully understand and engage in all relevant aspects.
Educating the public on sterilisation and the importance thereof will encourage greater responsibility among dog owners for population management and the care and welfare of individual animals.
Our Inspectors educate the public and rural communities whenever they are out in the field. Education on the care and welfare of our animals goes hand in hand with the work we do when we are out on inspections, outreach projects and rescues.
ZNSPCA is continually raising funds for this Project. The medicines and equipment required to implement this project are costly. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause or assist ZNSPCA in any way, please visit our Donations page for more information.
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