Category Archives: free-roaming dogs

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

The problem…which rez dog do you neuter?

The question

What problem are you trying to solve?

If an overpopulation of dogs is perceived, why are you neutering males?

If you are neutering males, which males do you neuter first?

Free roaming rez dogs

The big alpha ones who run the show and are intent to breed females in heat? Or the ‘satellite’ males, the ones who run around at the periphery and not really taking part of the action?

If you neuter the alpha ones, the satellite dogs will become the alpha ones. If you neuter the satellite dogs, the alpha ones still run the show.

Most of all, why neuter 5 year old indoor yorkie or chihuahua males?

What problem are you trying to solve when indiscriminately neutering males, or neutering small indoor males?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

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?

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.

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