Government calls for a frank discussion about stray dogs |12 April 2023
- Ceases the use of dog baiting
The Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment has said it is about time the public has a frank and honest conversation about stray dogs as it is a national concern.
Minister Flavien Joubert was answering a Private Notice Question in the National Assembly yesterday morning brought by the leader of the opposition, Hon. Sebastien Pillay, who had tabled an urgent question following the mass killing of dogs reported last Thursday.
Mr Pillay wanted to know why several dead dogs were found in public places in deplorable state, after the government had announced it would carry out dog control measures.
In his reply, Minister Joubert told the National Assembly that the issue of stray dogs was a serious one, which was confirmed through a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2020. He said control measures were necessary especially considering the threats posed by stray dogs to public health, the economic activity mainly tourism, security of humans and other animals, as well as hygiene.
He informed the National Assembly that the exercise carried out last Wednesday was done in accordance with the law, and the method used was permitted under the law and has been used in the past.
He said it was regrettable that dead dogs were found along public roads on Thursday morning and said this was due to an error in the way the staff carried out the control operation.
“Following the incident, we carried out a preliminary investigation and have noticed that the error was due to a lack of capacity in the field to carry out the work and a lack of follow-up afterwards. Usually the officer remains on site and all dogs and baits are collected soon after the exercise. Normally, there are also two teams that manage the operation. In this case there was only one, with only three persons and they were unable to cover all areas, and do a second round after in the areas where the operations were carried out. This meant that dead dogs were left lying there until morning, where photos were taken and leading to the reactions that we know of,” stated the minister.
Minister Joubert said that following the incident, the department had stopped the control measure using the specific method and will review it in detail.
However, he stated the advert notifying the public to keep their pets on their property will remain in place until the end of the year, since other methods such as the use of dog traps, was still being implemented.
When answering a question from the elected member for Glacis, Hon, Regina Esparon, on the use of other methods and their efficiency, Minister Joubert told the National Assembly that there were other methods for dog control, which were not being implemented due to a lack of resources.
“There are other methods but the stray dog issue is a serious one that other methods do not bring the results we want and we do not have the equipment,” he stated. These included the use of blowpipe, dart gun, and traps, which Mr Joubert said was costly as R20,000 per trap.
The minister also pointed out that the issue of stray dogs was a major challenge for the country and there should be a “frank and honest discussion on the matter, so that we can move forward and prevent it from becoming a matter that divides the population”.
He also stressed on the need to address other pertinent issues such as the responsibility of pet owners, dog breeding and the number of dogs per household.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment also announced a series of measures to encourage people to become responsible pet owners, which include door-to-door visits at homes to educate them about caring for their pets, to register and sterilise them.
The ministry was also in contact with the office of the Attorney General to train its officers on the Control and Protection of Dogs Act so as to better deliver their service. A nationwide campaign dubbed Happy Tails is also expected to be launched in May for pet owners to have their dogs sterilised at a more affordable cost.
“Application of the law and information to the public is another part that we are working on. We hope that by the end of the second quarter our department will have officers that will focus a hundred percent on education and information. This will help with us disseminate information using all media,” said Minister Joubert.
According to the Ministry, 334 dogs were registered and microchipped in 2022 and 36 were adopted by either locals or foreigners.
Meanwhile, a protest that was scheduled to take place today in Victoria by a group of animal lovers to denounce cruelty to animals following the mass killing of dogs reported last week, has been postponed after the group did not receive permission from the authorities to carry out their protest.