Stop vilifying stray dogs in Mauritius and promote Animal Welfare Laws.
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We, the undersigned, urge the Government of Mauritius to consider implementing humane dog population control programme, to promote mass sterilisation campaigns rather than focusing on the catching and killing of strays, and to promote animal welfare awareness. The strays must be sterilised and put up for adoption by caring families. Mauritius has been dealing with the problem of strays since 1972 and year after year, the situation is the same. It is clear that leading a ruthless campaign which depicts strays as being a nuisance is not effective. (Here are the links which according to the government what dogs exactly are:
Instead, the campaigns should focus on how letting a stray wander is in itself cruel, because the animal has to fend for its life by looking for meagre scraps of food and be subjected to the contempt and cruelty of people who do not care (animals deserve much more than that!). That this cruelty is being done against an animal should be the focus: not that the poor strays are "eyesores" as many people seeing adverts and campaigns start to think. Words such as these linked to living, feeling beings should never be used, for it does not provoke compassion and try to justify a quintessentially wrong manners of depicticting sentient animals. To many animal lovers, a dog is a companion no different than a daughter, son, brother or sister. To have one's brother or sister or loved one treated as "eyesore" or "nuisance" is heartbreakingly cruel, and disrespectful of the sentiments of many animal lovers.
As they currently stand, animal control standards are unacceptable, inhumane, and do not operate using the highest standards of animal welfare
In the view of the language used in the general media about stray dogs and even in sensitisation campaigns, these poor beings have been depicted as being a nuisance, a pest instead of a being deserving something much better than wandering on the streets, looking for food, and some meagre signs of affection from the people who are kind enough to smile at them.
Most of these dogs are first caught in a serious-injuring inflicting manner, with no consideration whatsoever about the enormous stress and pain the dogs undergo. Countless members of the public (and even tourists!) have been shocked to see dogs fighting for their lives being beaten on their heads if they prove challenging to capture. These hapless dogs are then put to death.The Rs13.5 million (2012 Budget) allocated to the MSPCA to capture strays in that same cruel manner could have instead focused on training officers about how to properly handle the dogs by caring about their welfare, the vaccination and mass sterilisation of dogs - these are the only humane, long-term, and effective ways to reduce the population of strays! Laws in Mauritius are grossly antiquated and have little to no measures concerning animal welfare. These poor souls don't have a voice. Be their voice.
Here is a 2002 report of the International Animal Rescue organisation: (http://www.radiomoris.com/forum/discussions-generales/3370-mauritius-society-prevention-cruelty-animals-mspca.html)
Quoting from the said report, which accurately depicts how misleading the name " Mauritius Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" is:
"In our view the MSPCA have a fine infrastructure however they seem to have lost their way. The inflexible nature of the management system is symptomatic of the current policies being followed by the Society.These policies seem to be based on a militaristic view of animal control rather than a compassionate animal welfare policy that would normally be employed."
"We found the views of Dr S on compulsory sterilization of the dog population to be somewhat confused. On many occasions he agreed that this was the only way to control the dog population and the next minute he would tell us that the program would never work."
"We were taken by Dr S to visit the Dog pound in Port Louis and witnessed the 'control of dogs' within the compound. We also went on a dog catching expedition with Dr S.We witnessed the netting of two dogs. Both of these dogs were netted in a very rough way and were hurled into the back of the van with no thought about whether the dog would be injured. We witnessed the hostility of the public towards the MSPCA dog catchers and in fact were under severe threat of attack after Dr.S decided to call them all of the names under the sun!
One of the dogs caught was taken from the forecourt of a small shop and the family that owned it immediately came running out of the shop to try and ask for the animals return.The young daughter was crying for the release of her dog and the family were ignored.The dog was taken!
IAR returned to the shop on our own to discuss the retrieval of their dog from the dog compound. They told us that they would have to hire a car to go to Port Louis to pick the dog up and told us it would cost about 1000 Rupees* which is a weeks wages for most Mauritians!"
"We returned to the shop a day later to see if they had managed to claim their dog back. We were told that they went to the dog pound and identified their dog.They had to pay 1700 Rupees (nearly 50% of an average months wages ). After paying the money they were told that they could not have their dog then but would need to go to the Rose Hill HQ to pick the dog up at 5.00pm. This involved the family in four separate journeys in one day at considerable expense in time and money to reclaim their dog. This attitude has totally alienated the general public against the MSPCA."
"It is our view that the MSPCA currently run an efficient dog killing service** with little or no compassion shown to the animals.The simple gentle handling of the dogs and reassurance was totally absent."
* Please note that this Rs1700 in 2002 has now become an unfair, and cruelly expensive Rs10000 or more in 2011. People who love their dogs and might have unintentionally let them free for a short while are subjected to this grossly unacceptable demand. One wonders whether this could amount to a deprivation of property under Section 8 of the Constitution. However interesting it would be to debate in the Supreme Court, this is a very serious matter and the amount of this fine must be drastically cut. Only people who care about their dogs would come in search of them, wouldn't they? Why in the world punish them for loving that innocent being, who many times is no less than a family member? Why can't the families be given the benefit of the doubt, instead of tried at the outset of being guilty of letting their pets loose!?
**The MSPCA does run an effective dog killing service, but this does nothing to help reduce the population of strays. Stray animals suffer on the streets - that is a form of cruelty and it is with this approach in mind that the dogs must be humanely handled, not because these living beings are a so-called "nuisance"!
See the following report by the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health):
When it comes to Mauritius, the report says the country needs:
"1) Support for the introduction of humane stray-animal control programme
2) Better capture and handling techniques"
The Oie recommends the "reduction of the use 'catch and kill' as only population management tool.
Moreover, as if the cruelty is not enough in the morning. Starting in mid January, the dog-catchers will even work at night (till about 22:00); there is something sinister in this way of working into the night - animal lovers are heartbroken to hear the helpless cries of dogs as they are being violently bundled off into the dog-catchers' vehicle in the morning, now they will be compelled to witness and hear this heartbreakingly cruel scene even at night. This is why it is urgent to implement humane, internationally standards of handling these animals immediately.
1) A good start will be made by changing the way we talk of animals and street dogs in particular. These are sentient beings capable of feeling pain, fear, happiness, and sadness. It is recommended that a pro-animal welfare tone is used in legislations drafted with animals in mind. The government is urged to provide humane animal-handling methods to the officers of the MSPCA who are involved with dog-catching (methods recommended internationally). Organisations such as the World Society for the Protection of animals (WSPA)/ Humane Society International (HSI)/PAWS could be asked for guidance. Why should it be that many members of the public should look upon the famed "camion lichiens" (dog-catchers) with dread and tension? (I know I do) This doesn't have to be the case. With the appropriate resources diverted towards training the officers for humane dog-catching techniques, maybe a general member of the public might even come to their help to calm the animals, to help them suffer less fear and stress. The stray dogs need then be sterilised and put up for adoption to responsible, caring families.
2) Families who come to request their dogs back should not be punished/ condemned to pay an excessive amount of money. Even those who commit road contraventions do not pay this amount! Those found guilty of cruelty to animals usually end up paying less than Rs2000!
3) Compulsory sterilisation of every and each new pet acquired in the household is another option. An effective control of breeders should be maintained. Mass sterilisation is the most humane option and should be intensified. The cruelty behind pet shops and puppy mills are well-known. Only licensed people should be able to sell pets across the island, and these should respect international animal welfare standards. (They should also be very few in number; people wanting pets should consider adopting a sterilised stray dog or puppy - these hunger for love and affection that has been deprived to them since birth).
4) Ultimately, it is advocated that no animals should be killed, and that they should instead be sterilised and put up for adoption. However, if this is not possible, then the most compassionate and painless way of putting the poor animal to sleep must be considered.This is what Humane Society International's US branch has to say about humane and painless method of putting an animal to sleep:
"The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends the injection of sodium pentobarbital, prepared specifically for use as a euthanasia product, as the preferred agent for animal euthanasia. This method, properly performed, has been deemed the most humane, least stressful, safest, and most professional choice by The HSUS, the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Humane Association, and the National Animal Control Association.
The HSUS strongly believes that there should be two people involved in the euthanasia process: one to hold and calm the animal and one to inject the drug. Intravenous (IV) injection (into the vein) is the most rapid and reliable method of performing euthanasia by injection when it can be administered without causing fear or distress in the animal. Sodium pentobarbital may be administered by intraperitoneal (IP) injection (into the peritoneal cavity) to cats, kittens, and puppies if IV injection is deemed to be impractical or stressful for the animal. The use of pre-euthanasia drugs is not always necessary but should be considered prior to administration of sodium pentobarbital, to ensure safe and humane handling of certain aggressive or frightened animals. Muzzling and other forms of humane restraint may also be used when needed."
Here are some links you might want to consult:
It must be noted that the Gas chamber, too, is an atrociously cruel method of killing animals and should never be adopted.
4) Educating the public about animal welfare, encouraging debates about animal welfare codes. Street dogs should cease to be labelled as pests and nuisance in official sensitisation campaigns. Controlling the population of stray dogs is an important matter because a dog having to wander aimlessly in the street is in itself cruel. It is cruel for the animal to constantly have to fight against starvation. They are in danger of getting into accidents and even face the insults, kicks and mistreatment from some heartless individuals. Only on these terms should a humane dog control population programme be put in place, and not on the basis that they are a nuisance.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau the famous 18th-century French philosopher said: "What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?"
"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace."
"A man can do only what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day."
Albert Schweitzer, early 20th-century German Nobel Peace Prize-winning mission doctor
NOTE: Read about the proposed dog control bill here (it is a bill which vilify the image of dogs and has little to no provision about their welfare!):
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