Stray Dogs: a Global Perspective

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A wise man once said, you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. Much can be felt in the spirit of this quote when we look at how we observe and discuss the issue of an ever growing pet population, dogs specifically, and the resulting stray dog populace that comes from it.

We would all like to think that there is a home for each and every dog in this country, however priorities change, and other problems arise, and much to the dismay for many of us, the problem continues to persist, and not just on the domestic front. Countries like Thailand, England, and China are facing similar issues only in some cases much worse.

In Thailand the stray dog population is “out of control  .” The director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services concluded recently that there were 8.5 million dogs in Thailand. Out of this number it is estimated that about 700,000 of them were considered to be strays. The concern here is the degree in which diseases can spread, primarily rabies. In a recent survey … 90% of animals found with rabies were dogs, and 60% of rabid dogs were stray dogs. This statistic is further bolstered in its urgency when you have over 300,000 female stray dogs who can produce an estimated 10 pups a year giving Thailand around 3.4 million new strays every twelve months.

In the US it is estimated that we have between 70–80 million dogs and out of this number only 37–47% are actually in households. China is estimated to have around 130 million dogs with around 27 million as urban pets. The United Kingdom has an estimated pet population of around 65 million (includes fish) with 46% of its residents having a pet in their homes.

Clearly this is a global issue, which currently shows no signs of decreasing. Many discussions have been had often producing solutions that are either too costly, or not humane. Many countries, including the US have adopted programs of sterilization and adopt-a-pet options in an effort to reduce the stray dog populations. Some have been more successful than others, but overall the problem is still a dire one. With increasing advances in pet technology there are several proposals in the works that would track all dogs via an implant and ergo create a dog population data base that would allow for proper registration and monitoring putting the liability and cost on the dog owner in the event they are found responsible for not properly taking care of their pets. Accountability is a factor that needs to be surfaced more, and hopefully with the advent of these monitoring systems and databases, we can all work together to reduce stray dog populations both here in the US and abroad.

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