We base our request on the following evidence:
1. Poisoning is not effective or scientific - The World Health Organisation has long protested that the poisoning of animals is not a scientific and effective. Independent research has also persistently shown that the number of dogs does not reduce after poisoning. Due to laws of nature, within as little time as six months the population recovers and often even increases. Poisoning also does nothing to decrease aggression among dogs and against humans.
This is why the World Health Organisation and international welfare organisations promote humane dog management (see http://www.icam-coalition.org/downloads/WHO-WSPA%20dog%20population%20management.pdf).
In Nepal, approved scientific and humane dog population management has been introduced over a decade ago – and some far-sighted local governments have supported the best option and outcome for their communities – Animal Birth Control/Anti Rabies (ABC/AR) programs.
ABC/AR involves the surgical sterilisation (spaying) and simultaneous rabies vaccination of dogs, with an emphasis on females in order to gain the most efficient outcomes. Aside from the adoption of ABC programs, the vaccination of pet dogs should be made mandatory, and suspected rabies cases should be caught and kept under observation.
Why do municipalities in Nepal continue to carry out mass culling of animals when it has been proven to be costly and ineffective? The Government of India adopted a policy to implement spay and neuter programmes to control the population of street dogs. And so convinced are they of ABC effectiveness, that 50% of surgery costs are supported by the Indian government, while municipalities support other expenses.
In Nepal, municipalities need to be encouraged and supported to develop such programmes, something the AWNN has long been involved in, as spaying and vaccination can be conducted with the support of qualified local NGOs. Our member organisations have international standards of practice and expertise in this area.
The public at large also needs to be educated on humane dog management and pet care, which would help local government to implement these programs and gain significant kudos with their constituents. And then, when authorities at the national level can see the benefits at all levels and get behind this strategy, effective and humane dog management will become a reality in Nepal.
2. Poisoning is inhumane for dogs and people - The image our community leaders want in their communities is not one of ‘man’s best friend’ dying slow, violent and agonizing deaths. But these heart wrenching and deeply traumatizing scenes are what children and other members of the public experience in the streets they live. Poisoning is cruel and inhumane. It results in a horrific death, throwing the dogs into violent seizures for up to 8-10 hours before they die in agony.
3. Poisoning is dangerous - Apart from being ineffective and inhumane, poisoning is dangerous. Poisoned meat can be eaten by stray cows and even street children. Cases are known in which cows died from eating poison meant for dogs. During monsoon, strychnine is washed by rain into water sources, which causes casualties through the contamination of drinking water, vegetables, etc. Bodies of dead dogs are generally not deposed off in an appropriate manner, leading to further contamination.
Nepal is more than ready for a long term-solution to stray dog problems. The knowledge and expertise is there, the technology is there, the support can be arranged. What – or who – is holding us back?
Nepal will not receive credit for continuing to utilise outdated measures for addressing stray dog problems. The indisputable evidence for a relationship between animal welfare and public health has never been greater or more respected by international bodies fighting the new frontline of zoonotic disease that threatens us on a daily basis.
There is no longer any excuse whatsoever for using irrational, out-dated tactics which put us all at risk. Therefore we urge you to ban dog poisoning now, and instead promote long term, effective and humane solutions for control of canines in our country.
Yours, Animal Welfare Network Nepal