Stray Dog Task Force will propose solution to overpopulation - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Stray Dog Task Force will propose solution to overpopulation

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - A solution to Guam's stray dog problem may be on the horizon and it will focus on female canines.      

In every village there are community canines. These are dogs that no one owns but most but are well known in the village traveling from house to house with a wagging tail. "And this idea that we have dogs in the neighborhood that we don't really own but we feed them our scrapes things that were going to go in the trash anyway we give it to the dog the dog in turn gives us free watch dog service barks at any new people in the neighborhood and it really works well for the most part and I admire that and I participated in that and it's just part of Guam," said veterinarian Thomas Poole. And although he says this is just part of our culture he admits it does create second order effects.

"That are causing a large problem when we use to do village roundups those were the dogs we would catch and those aren't the dogs that are causing the problems those are the dogs that aren't forming these packs and are going around and becoming vicious and killing other animals and livestock and threatening people," he said.

But these community canines really are not the problem. The real problem is the dogs that are forming the packs, as he notes, "The animals we really want to catch live in the jungles or in the edges of the villages and those animals come out at night and we trap one or two or three and then the rest of them the group understands what the traps are and the rest of them we don't catch."

For years the stray dog population has been a growing issue and while technology isn't at a point where we can just shoot a pill and sterilize the mutts, Poole says he knows what will work. "There is nothing that I know of that has the potential of being effective other that greatly increasing the number of female dogs on the island that are spayed and that's what I hope to do," he said.

But why target female dogs well according to Poole focusing on males just won't work because even with just a dozen male dogs running the streets they will be able to impregnate females throughout the island. And one pregnant female in just 18 months can produce 126 new dogs. "And so if we say 1,000 females, let's say then the potential is to remove 126,000 dogs, 18 months down the road there is no way you can catch and kill 126,000 dogs. But you spay a thousand and maybe get close to having that much of an impact," he explained.

But spaying and neutering canines is not free and so the task force is proposing that there be some sort of government assistance to help those who may be on federal assistance get their dogs fixed at a lower cost. While those who can afford it pay the full price. Poole says many other communities have mandatory spay laws that have been effective and he believes ours would have a better chance of working to get a leash on the growing stray dog population.

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