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October 31, 2013

A Street Dog Strategy for Mauritius

Humane Society International

  • Community dogs are everywhere. HSI

  • Some harmless, temporary color helps keep the count accurate. HSI

  • Many animals live in makeshift outdoor doghouses. HSI

  • Chained up. HSI

  • Many homes in rural areas have guard dogs. HSI

This summer, with support from the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security and assistance from partner organizations Mauritius Society for Animal Welfare and PAWS, HSI conducted an island-wide survey to estimate the number of street dogs present in Mauritius. This survey was designed based on scientific sampling principles similar to those used to conduct public opinion polling.

Significant overpopulation

The results indicate that there are approximately 55,000-60,000 street dogs in Mauritius, which is equivalent to one street dog for every 20 human residents. This estimate does not include owned dogs who are completely or predominantly confined to houses or yards. It was previously estimated that the total dog population in Mauritius is 200,000, which suggests that street dogs comprise nearly one-third of all dogs.

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The information was shared with government officials, who invited HSI to help prepare a long-term strategy for dealing with the issue.

Gathering information

The next phase will include another survey, this time door-to-door. It is planned for November 2013, to be conducted jointly with MSAW and PAWS. The Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security will also provide logistical support.

“A door-to-door survey will allow us to understand the animal-related issues that are important to Mauritians, and how to best address them,” explains HSI's John Boone.

“A dog population survey had never been carried out in Mauritius and the number of street dogs has always been debatable. Now, a first survey of the number of strays has already been completed and a second survey targeting owned dogs will be carried out shortly. As a result, we will have a better understanding of the situation and this will help us strategize for the mass sterilization project in our quest for more humane and effective population control," says Mr. Dabeedyal, Assistant Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.

“We are very proud of the Mauritian government in their move to adopt a humane solution and will assist however we can,” adds Moira Van Der Westhuizen, president of PAWS.

Making it happen

Mr. Dabeedyal and Mr. Ram Prakash Nowbuth, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, are open to financially supporting a country-wide spay/neuter program. HSI will be presenting a detailed proposal. One challenge that remains is the lack of trained veterinarians and this will be a key aspect of the program moving forward.

This will be HSI's largest Dog Population Management Program yet, if all goes smoothly—a "unique and valuable opportunity to build a large-scale, cooperative dog management project from the ground up," says Boone. Donate to help.

 

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