One comment I often hear from HSUS supporters who have traveled abroad is about the sadness and helplessness they feel when confronted with homeless dogs scavenging for food, or simply pleading for a warm caress. The handling of free-roaming populations of street dogs and cats is a common moral and public health concern of many nations. In the United States, we’ve conducted vaccination, sheltering and rescue programs, but in other parts of the world, it’s not uncommon to see poisoning, shooting and electrocution as a means of “disposing” of unwanted animals.
In the run-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, there was talk of “beautifying” the city by wiping out the domesticated animals. Yesterday, USA Today reported on a similar proposal by organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We condemned the decision – and today the Black Sea coastal city announced it will abandon its plan to kill more than 2,000 stray dogs and cats. Humane Society International has offered to help Sochi with a humane population control program as an alternative. Our method relies not on building shelters, but on mass sterilization and vaccination of street dogs.
With sufficient resources, we know how to get the job done. Humane Society International has been working in a number of countries to promote and implement such programs. In Bhutan, officials from the Queen Mother to the Leader of the Opposition praised the HSI street dog management program and the Kingdom will be spending its own funds to maintain the operation in the future. Following a visit from Rahul Sehgal, director of HSI Asia, government officials in Mauritius decided to end their street dog culling program and instead implement a sterilization and education program. In India, we are part of a four-organization consortium that received a large grant from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust to implement a 3-year street dog management and rabies education program in Jamshedpur, the location of the Tata Steel Works. In the Philippines, public health veterinarians are implementing spay/neuter programs after taking the course on humane street dog management presented by HSI staff.
There may be 300 million street dogs in the world. We must cast aside reckless killing and opt for humane management. We have the technology and the know-how; we just need the resources and the capacity to implement these ideas.
If you would like to join our efforts in helping to protect street dogs around the world, please consider becoming a street dog defender.