Dr Laurie Droke DVM on How to Help with Dog Eradication on San Pedro

The Future of Dog Eradications in San Pedro

With the recent eradication of dogs in San Pedro using strychnine has come a lot of questions. The largest one is how do we come up with a viable alternative? It’s easy to rant and rave about how terrible it is, but lasting solutions are a much larger challenge. My initial reaction was actually not anger at the town council, but frustration with the public. Why can’t people be responsible and keep their dogs at home? But the reality is that this is Belize, and ex-pats and animal welfare supporters are not going to change the culture here overnight.

Some may not realize that the dog population here on the streets is primarily owned animals. In my opinion this is a larger challenge than strays, because it is the owners themselves that have to be inspired to change. How do we get people to change their culture, attitudes, and habits when it comes to owning dogs in Belize? It is a tall order, but one which I believe is attainable over time and with hard work from volunteers, dog-lovers, veterinary hospitals, and humane societies.

But what about the problem we have today? From what I hear and read it seems that this is a pretty serious problem, with local physicians seeing an increase in cutaneous larval migrans, a painful and life-threatening disease in people caused by infections from canine roundworms and hookworms. And the town council plan is for the dog poisonings to continue.

My own personal feeling is that this is an emergency. I own dogs here, and they are poisoning on my street. The last thing I want to do is spend the night killing dogs, but in this situation I am prepared to help. If the mayor and town council are willing to try it I could assist with the eradication and euthanize the dogs with IV injections of Euthasol. This would prevent the risk of pets being inadvertently poisoned by remaining poison on the streets. This would also mean residents could safely leave their guard dogs and pets in their yards, as they would not be at risk.

If this is a solution which the city is happy with, then it could become part of a long-term plan. I will not be on the island forever, so in the future concerned residents could collect money to hire a vet to help with the eradications. There would also need to be a stash of Euthasol kept ready in a safe place, for use in these emergency eradications.

And of course the most important piece of the puzzle will always be spaying and neutering. We could be doing so much more. We could be knocking on doors and collecting dogs weekly for spaying and neutering but we are not. For every person who is outraged by this poisoning I have to ask… why not???

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