Alert: Untamed Dogs in Mauritius is becoming dangerous to visitors

The Agricultural Technician for the Ministry of Agro Industry says that wild dogs are an imminent threat to our society. They are born in the wild and when they grow up they can be ferocious. It has been reported that wild dogs tend to stray where there is food available and have already attacked goats and perhaps one day will also attack human beings. We have also observed that these animals eat raw meat and this will alter their behavior. The Government intends to renew its sensitization campaign to mass sterilize campaign dogs to prevent unnecessary births. When there are unwanted pregnancies, owners tend to abandon the puppies by the seaside and in wastelands.

The Government has set up a mobile clinic and has also held some seminars in Social Centers in various parts of the island. Instead of asking people to go and seek for help from the Veterinarian Society, the Government has chosen the decision to go to the public. Furthermore, the campaign has also reached the schools to inform the young students on the importance of sterilization. Besides having important sessions throughout nearly all the Social Centers, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, the Veterinarian Society will launch a campaign to reduce the number of stray dogs in the north of the island. It is not pleasant for tourists to witness dogs roaming around and scavenging.

The Chief Inspector at the MSPCA (Mauritius Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has said that sterilization is insufficient, as this is not the root of the problem, Though sterilization can reduce the number of wild dogs running wild, however, it is the issue of straying that causes the problem. Dogs may have an owner, and the owner may even sterilize the dog, but if he lets the dog looses then it is a nuisance. We must conduct an aggressive dog catching campaign and inform the public on the hazards of straying. Also there is the issue of unwanted puppies. People feel guilty when they have to kill an animal, and prefer to just get rid of it. According to the opinions of the public in general, we must have a law that restricts the number of dogs that a family can keep. For example, there exists a pensioner who owns up seven dogs. That pensioner said that there is a hotel nearby that threw food away and in order to feed the dogs, they would set them loose and scavenge at the hotel.

Normally, we cannot allow this to happen. We have laws in place, but it is neither adhered to by the public nor it is enforced by the authorities.

Precautionary measures

The President of the Animal Welfare Services in Beau Vallon says that the benefits of the sterilization of dogs will be felt in around 4-5 years. We must sterilize males as well as females. When a dog is in heat, t will attract males and this ordinarily leads to fights. When a dog is injured it will attract parasites and flies. Also, stray dogs cause road accidents. If a motorcyclist hits against a dog, it can be fatal for the dog and the motorcyclist too. If an owner takes good care of his pet then the latter will not try to leave the compound. To ensure that the animal is well protected we must ensure that they are enclosed in a decent compound even tied to a running chain. The Chairman of the Veterinarian council says that the sight of stray dogs puts off tourists. Images of rabid dogs, disease and lack of law and order spring to their mind. We must remember that people in other countries love their pets and seeing stray dogs sends a message that we donÂ’t care. Therefore, all dogs should be vaccinated against viruses such as distemper.

According to the statement of a veterinary surgeon, we have approximately 1.7 million dogs in the country and this is far too many. Stray dogs pose environmental problem such as disease and sterilization is definitely one method to tackle the issue. Over the past 30 years there has been a marked improvement in the manner that Mauritians take care of their pets. They have become more animalsÂ’ conscious and offer their pets better food and care. Some owners even treat their pets as if they were like children, so perhaps within a few years with an overhaul in the Mauritian psychology, we would see the number of stray dogs fall.

The Association of Hotel Restaurants of the Island of Mauritius (AHRIM) regularly donates Rs 1 million to associations that work towards the protection of the environment, namely Mauritius Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal and Paws that deal with the protection and control of the domestic animals. We have to do this order to provide a clean environment to tourists. There are so many of stray dogs in the coastal region and this will definitely affect the restaurant businesses. The Government intends to attract 2 million tourists in the near future and we must all do our bit to the achievement.

18th July 2007