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!
Until 10 years ago, the primary incentive to spay and neuter was to prevent uncontrolled numbers of dogs produced and euthanized at shelters across the continent.
However as the primary impetus to breed dogs (for form and function) has considerably changed, the views on spay and neuter are also evolving, especially in light of dog health and social differences observed in other countries (mainly in Europe) which do not endorse surgical sterilization.
PREVENTION OF MAMMARY CANCER
Other than population control, the most important reason to spay dogs is the prevention of mammary tumours, if spaying is done early in life. However this comes at a cost: increased urinary incontinence.
INCREASED RISKS OF CANCER
There is growing evidence which is not conclusive due to the lack of statistically significant controlled studies (as opposed to observational ones) indicating that certain cancers such as osteosarcoma (bone cancer), bladder transitional cell carcinoma, splenic hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours may be increased as a result of gonadectomy (removal of gonads, ie ovaries or testicles).
SPAY AND NEUTER IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES
This brings into focus the need to elaborate specific protocols regarding spay and neuter in remote areas such as First Nations communities where the mortality rate of dogs may be relatively high.
Is it done to benefit an individual dog or the community?
If population control is the aim, shouldn’t all available females be spayed first before neutering males?
What about neutering males who do not have clear male-on-male aggression behavioural issues – why spend resources on them before spaying females?
Should breed predisposition to ailments resulting from gonadectomy be considered when spaying or neutering a dog in remote areas?
The Dog Population Management project of James / Hudson Bay area of 2015-16 is helping to bring to light specific needs and solutions for dog populations in remote areas. We would love to hear your thoughts!