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Survey to control stray dog population ongoing

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - You see them on the streets. Often running in packs, they're busy overturning trash bins and chasing students walking to and from their bus stops.

And after years of struggling with the out of control stray K-9 population, officials from Hawaii visited the island recently to help local officials get a better handle on the numbers.

"If people understood that one female and a male over a seven year period could create 64,000 off-spring - it's huge. It's mind boggling. So these are the types of things that are so important for people to understand," according to Guam Animals In Need president Peggy Denny.

She said the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International recently paid a visit to the island to train local officials how to gather information relative to controlling the stray dog population locally.

"We are gathering information on the number of dogs and cats that people have. Do they live inside. Do they live outside. Have they been spayed and neutered. what are their feelings towards sterilization. If they haven't spayed or neutered their dogs and cats we need to get this information so we have a better idea on the challenges that we need to address in the community with the respect is that is there a mindset that sterilization unsafe? Or that male dogs will be changed radically their behavior and what not," she said.

Surveyors will be visiting 10 villages throughout the island to gather this information. These villages include Merizo, Agat, Sinajana, Yona, Agana Heights, Yigo, Dededo, Barrigada, Mangilao, and Inarajan.

"It's a door to door survey. So we've already been advised as to how many residences we need to go to obtain surveys. The survey takes about five minutes. They started Saturday morning and we're not really quite sure how long it will take us because basically we'll be doing it on weekends," she said.

To date, there's an estimated 40,000 stray dogs roaming the island's streets, but Denny admits the gain shelter can only do so much as they're kennels are often full to capacity.

Denny says the as much as they'd love to help each and every one of the animals brought into gain, it's not always a happy ending. After all, when the kennels are full and not enough animals are being adopted, the animals are euthanized.

"This is what we're trying to ultimately reduce so we don't have all these numbers that at some point have to be euthanized," she said.

Once the data is collected, Denny says it will be sent to a statistician before an education program about proper dog and cat care can begin in conjunction with the stray dog committee under the Mayors Council of Guam.

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