Category Archives: Dog Population Management

Why over vaccinate?

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

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.

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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?

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

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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:
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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):

Enough pups for this mom!

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.

A mom with her pups, now competitors

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

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

Local dog champion – priceless!

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Chemical castration – desirable for dogs with no names?

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.

Free roaming dog

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