Territorial vet proposes shooting unruly strays - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Territorial vet proposes shooting unruly strays

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - There have been numerous efforts to attack the uncontrollable stray dog population that has become a problem in almost every neighborhood around the island.

While animal control is doing the best it can to catch these canines, the island's territorial veterinarian has made a few suggestions he knows may not be popular but could be effective.

"This is a bigger problem than animal control can solve," Dr. Tom Poole told KUAM News.

Each year the Department of Agriculture's Animal Control Division catches between 4,000 and 5,000 stray dogs around the island. Dr. Poole says the significant jungle area on the island makes it difficult for officials to gauge just how many stray dogs there are, much less to catch them all. While he suggests that the long term solution is to sterilize as many animals as possible, Poole admits nothing will eliminate neighborhoods from the threat of dangerous dogs. 

He suggests one technique that's been used in the past when officials rid the island of rabies. "One of the techniques that they used to depopulate the dogs was shooting dogs with small caliber, .22 caliber, rifles and they employed military and police marksman to do that," he explained. "It wasn't the only techniques they used, but it was one of the techniques they used and no one was injured using that technique."

The territorial vet says he suggests having the lethal option only for dangerous canines that have attacked people and continuously manage to evade animal control. "I would like to have an option that works to take these animals off the page somehow. I think head shots with small caliber rifles in the hands of a police marksman is humane and relatively safe. You have to understand that we're not talking about something that has no risks; if we do nothing there are very real risks and so I propose that this risk is more manageable than the risk of leaving those dogs out there."

Poole says he's opposed to the use of leg traps and poisons because it's harder to target the dangerous canines from the strays that just become a nuisance for neighborhoods around the island. The territorial vet has asked for a thorough hearing on his proposal and is also recommending that lawmakers deal with the uncontrollable stray dog population once and for all by requiring all pet owners to neuter their dogs, unless they are a certified breeder.

"I can understand why that's not necessarily popular. The community has to decide do we want to do something about this stray dog population or not. If we don't and we're happy with the way it is, then peaches but if we want to do something about it then that is a technique that is proven to work," he continued.

Poole says until the community commits to these solutions, the problem will continue.  As for those dogs that do make it to the pound-many are kept for a minimum of three days and Poole says 85% are euthanized in a humane way.

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