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May 1, 2014

HSI Goes High-Tech for Dogs

Humane Society International/India

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Smart phone in hand, 12 surveyors headed out on bikes to record sightings of dogs in Mumbai. This was the first time in India that a dog population survey was done using such accessible technology.

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Lex Hiby, a population biologist at Conservation Research, Ltd. who was the consultant for the Mumbai Dog Population Survey, used the existing 24-ward boundary to identify 23 tracks to follow—from busy highways to narrow lanes thorough densely populated slums—with dogs to be counted along the way.

Every day, each team was given a specified, mapped area with assigned tracks (roads) to cover. Using an OSM tracker application (downloadable from Google), they tagged each dog observed. There were seven categories to select from: female notched, lactating female, female un-notched, male notched, male un-notched, unknown adult and puppy. After recording their sightings, they submitted a file, which, once uploaded, could be analyzed with all the other teams’ data. To ensure accuracy, each track was surveyed twice.

Easy to use

Using technology helped organize the survey more efficiently and opened up avenues for carrying out such processes in more difficult terrain and larger cities. Dr. Amit, an HSI vet who was one of the surveyors, said, "This was very unique from our previous methodology because it was first time we counted dogs without paper and pen. The only instrument required was a smart phone with an application.”

Results show success

He continued, “The survey shows that more than 75 percent of dogs are ear-notched, which proves that the Animal Birth Control program has been very successful in Mumbai. Even in slums where it is really difficult to enter with a dog-catching vehicle, we found very good coverage by the ABC program.” Give now to help.

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