Phuket volunteer veterinarian for stray dog and stray cat sterilization


How is public health benefited?

Effective, permanent control of a stray cat and dog population has multiple important benefits with respect to public health.

  • Despite thriving in Phuket’s environment stray dogs and cats are far from healthy. They carry internal and external parasites, fungal, bacterial and viral disease. Some of these infections can be transferred to humans. Probably the most notable zoonotic disease and that which poses the greatest public health risk is the Rabies virus.

  • The abundance of food and shelter for stray animals in Phuket results in high population densities. This then translates into increased competition between animals and so increased aggression toward fellow animals and sometimes humans. The noise created by fighting dogs is unacceptable. More animals in the streets and on the roads also increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

  • Irresponsible owners dump many unwanted animals into Buddhist Wats. Often these Wats are situated adjacent primary schools. Children playing around the stray dogs, especially if they do not know not to tease the animals, are susceptible to bite wounds and zoonotic disease.

  • Stray cats and dogs often have to scavenge for food. Strewn garbage attracts vermin and flies that then go on to spread disease.

A litter of puppies dumped at the entrance of a temple.

Why is a capture-neuter-release program more effective than a culling or relocation one?

Apart from capture-neuter-release programs being a humane approach it is the only safe approach whose results are effective long term. Extensive studies have shown that culling and/or relocation techniques for stray animal control result only in short term gain. Yes, the results are “overnight” but like most Band-Aid, quick-fix methods they are short-lived and certainly not sustainable. Cats and dogs are naturally very territorial so when a population is destroyed or removed from a specific area that territory is then opened up to a new population to move in. The reduction in competition for food, shelter and mate results in an accelerated population growth rate of the "new population". Thus in no time at all the same area has become home to an equal if not greater stray animal population, this scenario is particularly evident in Phuket, and is sadly seen again and again. It is time to recognize the inefficiency of present methods of population control and support one that can return sustainable results.

 Also, the commonly used method of culling stray animals, the use of baited meats, poses a significant public health risk. I once witnessed six dogs die from Strychnine baits on a beachfront not more than 20m from tanning tourists. What if a child wandered up from the beach and ate the meat? Also there were birds & other wildlife dying alongside the dogs as a result of indiscriminate poisoning. This is totally unacceptable.

 

How many animals have been surgically neutered so far?

In just 7 weeks the Atigaro Project has neutered 273 animals. Well over half of these were breeding age female dogs. In a tropical environment where there is an abundance of food and shelter dogs and cats are prolific breeders. They can bear young twice a year. Each female dog or cat can potentially give birth to 12 to 18 puppies or kittens per year. These offspring can reach sexual maturity as early as 4-6 months of age, so it is not difficult to understand why the problem here is so large scale It takes really simple math to realize that the Atigaro Project results in an exponential long-term benefit with respect to population control.  
 

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