Sterilising a dog also brings health benefits to the animal. (Seychelles News Agency)
Five volunteer veterinarians will join the Department of Agriculture on La Digue to carry out another free dog sterilisation camp as part of efforts to reduce and control the around 6,000-strong stray dog population in Seychelles.
Carried out under the 2023 Dog Control Programme, the next camp is expected to take place in mid-October. The department has already carried out three other camps at Grand Anse Mahe, Anse Etoile, and Beau Vallon.
In an interview with SNA, the department’s chief animal health and livestock officer, Rodney Philo, said that at each location a little over 100 dogs – male and female – were sterilised.
“This number could have been higher. We, unfortunately, had to turn away some people because their dogs were in heat or had a health condition. We are getting high turnouts during the free sterilisation camps. When it was paid, people did not really come to have their pets sterilised,” said Philo.
He shared that the free camps, however, come at an expense to the department and the government.
“This is a very costly operation for us. To sterilise a dog that weighs 4 to 5 kilos, it costs SCR 700 ($54). This means that just for the medication to sterilise the 103 dogs at Beau Vallon, it costs us SCR76,500, ($6,000),” said Philo.
Stray dogs, which normally walk around in packs, cause a nuisance in the communities, showing aggression towards people in public areas, fighting and eating, or causing harm to livestock on farms or other pets on private properties. Some dogs with owners, but who are not properly kept on the owner’s property, also add to the problem.
With the stray dog situation in the country at an alarming level, through the Dog Control Programme, the department seeks to prevent unwanted litters, which will directly reduce the stray dog population and save up on the resources of the department and its partners. Dog shelters in the country are currently operating at capacity and are understaffed.
Sterilising a dog also brings health benefits to the animal as it becomes less prone to certain cancers, behavioural issues, and life-threatening conditions.
“Pet owners need to be more responsible. It is the release of unwanted litter by pet owners on the street that contributes to worsening the stray dog situation in the country. We highly encourage the public to call us when they have unwanted pets – we pick them up and either rehome the animals with the help of SSPCA or Pet Haven or humanely put them to sleep after seven days,” said Philo.
He shared that the department is working on bringing in an expert, specialised in humanly catching stray dogs to provide training to the relevant local staff. For example, the department’s staff will be trained on how to use a shotgun to tranquilise stray dogs, allowing for safer capture for both the dog and the person.
Philo noted that the stray cats are also a concern for the department.
“We are discussing the possibility of undertaking cat sterilisation camps. We want to focus on bringing down the number of stray dogs first, then tackle the cat problem,” he continued.