There is no doubt in my mind, the best predictor of success for a sustainable humane dog population management (DPM) project is the presence of a dog champion in the local community receiving the project.
A local dog champion is a person who lives in the community or has frequent significant contacts with it, has taken to heart the welfare of dogs with and without names/homes, has the support and trust of the community, and has knowledge of the culture and language.
A DPM project, whether on First Nations land (rez dogs) or abroad (street dogs), needs to seek such collaboration to accelerate success and transfer the means (financial, technical, scientific and educational) for a community to become self-sustained in their effort to humanely control their unwanted dogs population.
Do you have a reliable local dog champion? If so, congratulations, you have the first ingredient to success for your project!
Dr. Judith Samson-French
In my opinion, the answer is no.
But let’s get a little background info first.
Chemical castration of dogs refers to two products: Zeuterin (Zinc gluconate) and Calcium chloride. The former is approved in USA (but not in Canada) while the latter has not had proper clinical trials to evaluate its efficacy and safety. Both involve injecting testicles with a chemical to produce tissue atrophy. Tissue swelling (which occurs from the mere fact of injecting liquid into a capsular structure) is a primary cause of discomfort post-injection and pain management must be implemented.
Zeuterin, unlike surgical castration, leaves enough testosterone behind to produce testosterone driven behaviours such as mounting of females (but shooting blanks), roaming and packing. Those are precisely behaviours that people living in our remote and isolated communities find undesirable.
As for Calcium chloride, there is an overall lack of consistency in formulation, dosage, and administration as well as inadequate measures of sterility, safety, and testosterone reduction. For those reasons, Calcium chloride needs more controlled clinical trials BEFORE its use in the field for purpose of sterilization be considered.
Because both products may produce significant pain and debilitating scrotal problems, chemically sterilized dogs should be kept under supervision and pain management implemented for one to two weeks post injection. This is simply not feasible with free-roaming dogs, dogs with no names.
As always, when trying new medical protocols in the field, one must be very conscious not to take advantage of disadvantaged populations who do not know better.
Dr. Judith Samson-French