WSPA and the FAO call for global dog population body

Apr 4, 2011

A vaccination programme would eradicate any suspected public health risk without causing immense suffering

Experts on dog population management urge the creation of a technical forum to make more informed policy on the world’s canine population.

Delegates made the proposal at a recent meeting on dog population management in Banna, Italy, jointly hosted by WSPA, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Istituto G. Caporale Teramo, with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO). The meeting hosted a group of global experts from different disciplines to address the challenges of dog population management, both domestic and stray, in a holistic way.

Different participants from academic institutions, government authorities, non-governmental bodies, public health institutions and intergovernmental organizations agreed on the need to establish an international technical forum on dog population management. This body will be coordinated by the FAO and open to all relevant players in dog management around the world.

The establishment of a technical body that can advise on dog population management issues throughout the world is a very much needed initiative,” says Elly Hiby, Scientific Advisor at WSPA. “We also hope it will provide a major boost to integrating animal welfare into canine population control, and a move away from mass culling globally.

The growing global dog population

The need for such a body becomes even more essential as dogs become more popular as pets. To date, there are an estimated 500 million dogs worldwide, and dog ownership is on the rise in many developing nations. For example, Vietnam saw a 47% increase in dog ownership between 2003 and 2007.

The call for improved dog population management is driven by the need to ensure the welfare of animals, while reducing the health and safety risks that dogs can present to people from dog bites and diseases such as rabies. To achieve this, it is necessary to address the entire dog population, both domestic and stray. It is also vital to integrate dog population management into a comprehensive public health global strategy, delegates said.

In this meeting, we have found a particularly close link between animal welfare and human well being. There is an increasing acceptance that animal suffering is not a necessary cost to achieve benefits for people,” Hiby says. “As we’ve seen in our work around the world, once communities are engaged – with clear communications and education – people will invariably choose humane and sustainable alternatives to control methods that cause animal suffering.”

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