Category Archives: dog population management

Why Over Vaccinate?

Why over vaccinate tiny little dogs?

I don’t know.

Dogs With No Names project has worked in several Indigenous communities across Canada using contraceptive implants to rapidly reduce an unwanted dog population by initially targeting females.
This provides two clear and immediate benefits:

1. Increased public safety through decrease fighting/chaos around females no longer in heat.

2. Huge welfare benefit for females who may otherwise deliver unwanted puppies in the winter.

As such, we also provide rabies vaccine, essential in case of dog bites, and over the years, we have added a parvo/distemper vaccine to prevent mortality of sexually-neutralized females.
Outdoor females, that is.

Lately, a spay/neuter group went to a First Nations community to hold a surgical clinic. That is good news. However, ‘driveable’ First Nations (FN) communities in southern Alberta have access to veterinary care. That means, many FN residents take their dogs to a veterinarian for routine care such as vaccinations.

At my veterinary hospital, 8 small dogs (under 10 pounds) owned by regular FN clients came in to get vaccine boosters for their dogs who had just been ‘done’ at the recent spay/neuter clinic.

This was an unpleasant situation: all 8 little tiny dogs were already properly vaccinated with several of them on a 3 year vaccine schedule. The FN dog owners were upset their dogs got over vaccinated. These little dogs are totally indoors and do NOT contribute to the overpopulation of dogs on the rez nor put public safety in jeopardy.

Dogs With No Names project has federal oversight and reports on all contraceptives used in dogs in Canada. To that intent, all dogs in our projects are microchipped.

Some outdoor dogs just spayed, had recently received an implant. Thus, one of us wasted resources as females do not need their ovaries removed AND an implant.

A phone call before the spay/neuter clinic would have easily identified the dogs at risk (welfare), the dogs in need of spaying, and residents dealing with semi-feral dogs in dire need of help.

We all have finite resources, why not work together to enhance these resources for the benefit of the dogs who really need a break?

As for neutering and vaccinating 5 year old chihuahua living exclusively indoors… I don’t get it.

~Judith Samson-French DVM

3 Ways to Spay a Dog

In North America, veterinarians are generally trained to remove the uterus and ovaries (spay) whereas in Europe, the removal of the ovaries (and sparing the uterus) is often the norm.

Some advocate to spare the ovaries for health reasons (and remove only the uterus) which means females will go through heat cycles, attract males and chaos, but be infertile.

Since chaos around females in heat is often a public safety issue and dog welfare problem, not removing the ovaries seems inappropriate for a successful dog population management program.

But why not just remove the ovaries and leave the uterus behind (ovariectomy, not ovariohysterectomy) which means a less invasive surgery for the free-roaming females?

Chemical Castration of Dogs – Helpful?

The answer may be found in a study done on a statistically significant number of dogs in Chile.

It concluded the majority of dogs displayed no long-term (up to 6 months) testosterone levels change after chemical sterilization.

Does castration help reduce roaming?

The implications? We need to better understand the role testosterone plays on sexual, aggressive and
roaming behaviours to appropriately chose the best method of sterilization and intended impact on male dogs beyond shooting blanks.

Our team does not believe, at this point, that chemical sterilization is an ideal choice for free-roaming rez dogs: if a chemically castrated dog continues to pursue females in heat and engage in dog aggression, it remains a public safety issue.

Your thoughts?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Effects of surgical and chemical sterilization on the behavior of free-roaming male dogs in Puerto Natales, Chile.
Garde E1, Pérez GE2, Vanderstichel R3, Dalla Villa PF4, Serpell JA5.

Working Together

Communities throughout the world can clearly benefit from a little help managing runaway dog populations. To exponentially accelerate results why not consider the following 3 points:

1. Permanently and individually identify the dogs handled.
2. Leave a record of activities performed with the community.
3. Work with communities that have a strong dog champion.

This way, unrelated groups working in a community over time can assure some continuity and avoid spaying a dog already spayed.

3 Solutions – Which are you Using?

When assisting communities to humanely deal with unwanted dogs, there are 3 possible immediate solutions:

 

1. Stop or decrease “littering”
This starts with the prevention of as many pregnancies (ie targeting females) as possible, as fast as possible, with surgical and/or non-surgical intervention and conventional means (sequestration of females in heat).
 
2. Prevent influx of dogs in the communities.
Especially non sexually neutralized dogs (spayed or neutered).
 
3. Encourage adoption of excess dogs within and outside the communities.
For a dog population management plan to sustainably succeed in the long term, more than one solution needs to be applied. This also implies that each community needs to implement a set of bylaws suitable and enforceable to their specific needs.
Respectfully,
Dr. Judith Samson-French

Do You Know the 3 Basic Questions?

When working with communities in need of a dog population management program,  there is unfortunately not a standard protocol to alleviate the problem.

The goal is to formulate a sustainable plan that a community can take ownership of. Answering the following 3 questions (as to why there is a perception of too many dogs) will be the starting point (besides basic demographic info):

1. What is the influx of dogs in the community, ie how many dogs are brought from outside and why (if there are already too many in the community)?

2. How much breeding goes on, ie how many females go into heat, and is the nuisance factor more about unwanted unsocialized pups and/or about males getting aggressive and packing while females are in heat?

3. Is there abandonment of dogs and why?

Answering those questions will prevent repeating mistakes of the past and help gauge if a community is strongly engaged in making sustainable changes.

Dr. Judith Samson-French

 

1 Mother has 8 Competitors

When dealing with free-roaming dogs, it is heartbreaking to see a lactating female hiding away from her weaning aged pups.

The pups, unable to find food and water, try to get milk from an exhausted mother who has given her best to keep them alive.

So why is their mom now hiding from them? Because their dirty long nails are starting to inflame her sagging mammary glands, ie she is getting mastitis and it plainly hurts.

However the worse is not over, the fight for survival is only starting for all of them: the 8 hungry pups directly compete with their debilitated mother for food.

So every free-roaming female who is sexually neutralized is spared misery within the next 10 months (reason #3), so why not target females first and foremost in managing a population of unwanted dogs ?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Winter Pups…We Need to Help Mom!

Female wolves give birth only in the spring when food is plentiful and water is in the liquid form (not ice or snow). They can also rely on the pack to provide for the pups.

Contrast that with free-roaming dogs. Females, through our work of domestication, have lost the ability to conceive only once a year in the spring. In our northern climates, they give birth in the snow at sub-zero temperatures when all is frozen around them, including drinking water.

More than ever, a lactating bitch needs water for her own maintenance and milk production. She will need to eat roughly 10 cups of snow to convert it into 1 cup of water while staying warm in the process. As for finding unfrozen food…

This is reason #2 why targeting females first and foremost in managing a population of unwanted dogs is the right thing to do. If you are not targeting females, why not?

If you are still unconvinced, there is reason #3 coming next.

Dr. Judith Samson-French

 

1 Female, 1 Year, 44 Pups

To reduce the number of free-roaming dogs, there is only ONE way to get there fast: target all females first for sexual neutralization.

Here’s is an example:

A female has a litter of 8 pups, half of which are females.

A year later, her 4 female pups will have been bred, likely by their brothers, father or uncles, to each produce another 8 pups. Add to those 32 dogs,  the mom’s second litter of 8 pups and her previous litter’s 4 males,  and we now have a total of 44 unwanted free-roaming, under-socialized fearful dogs running around.

Of course, there will be mortality but still..

1 female left intact has the potential to produce 44 offspring within a year, many of which will be  inbred and living a life not worth living.

Target ALL FEMALES first, if not why not?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

How Many Stray Dogs in the World?

How many stray dogs in the world?

Apparently the answer could be as high as 600,000,000 but we don’t care and here’s why: that number is incomprehensibly too large.

We can reason this situation is intolerable. We are morally aware we have an obligation to help, yet we remain strangely unmoved because this number is much too large to connect with. Even beyond empathy.

So let’s look at the numbers closer to home.

In 2013, nearly 4 millions pets were euthanized in the USA, 2.7 millions of which are healthy or with easily treatable issues. During that time, over 300,000 dogs were imported from developing countries. Incomprehensible!

Let’s look at our own numbers, in Canada.

Numbers are difficult to come by in Canada due to the lack of governing agencies and standards. Canada is the wild west of rescues and pet imports. The best estimates report over 600,000 dogs are euthanized every year, most of which are in Quebec.

This translates to likely well over 1,000,000 dogs needing a name and a home in Canada.

How can we sanely live in a country where so many dogs are homeless and gas chambers are still in use?

How can we participate in worldwide efforts to help others manage their populations of unwanted dogs when our own house is not in order?

It is time we focus on making social changes in Canada that prove successful. Only once we have humanely dealt with our surplus dog problems will we be in a position to efficiently help others.

Dr. Judith Samson-French