Mangy Dog? or Dead Dog? That is the Question Print E-mail
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Written by M&M   
Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:00

The most loyal, the most loving pets in the world, dogs are also now one of the biggest pests of our country. There is no denying that as puppies they are the most adorable animals alive.  But as they begin to lose their soft fur, their baby fat and start getting big, most Belizeans tend to lose interest and as the interest is lost, so is the dog. No one worries if the pet lives, dies or if it eats or not. The dog then roams the city, bursting people’s garbage bags to get food or walk around town looking all stink, dirty and thin. Everywhere you turn in the city it seems that you see homeless dogs. You may be asking why this topic was chosen for discussion today but unlike people, animals cannot defend themselves. Their natural behavior is to procreate. They on their own cannot reason and decide to have fewer children. I thus believe that we should encourage the eradication of stray dogs and neuter or spay the ones that belong to the civilians in order to control the suffering dog population.

It has been theorized that the dog population in a country is a sign of its economic wealth. The more control of the animal strays the wealthier a nation is. It has even been concluded that tourists prefer visiting nations were there are little to no strays. Hence the reason why nations that conduct the Olympic Games usually eradicate dogs and cats weeks before the games are hosted.  Belize, in general, needs to adopt this method of control. The fewer dogs we have the more we are able to take care of them and appreciate them.

 Honestly I think we are thinking too much about this dog killing situation. Yes, I understand that the method of killing dogs which is using strychnine to poison dogs is painful; but is it not more inhumane than seeing these dogs die slowly on street corners with no one caring. Should not someone take pity and end their torture? People complain about how harsh the method is and feel pity for the dog etc. you would think that  so much pity should make their hearts soften and find a home or take in the stray animal. However, many people do not want to take responsibility. They simply complain and expect the government to do everything. In this case I am intending to exclude the islands, which have been doing their best to keep animal control. San Pedro and Ambergris Caye have their own Humane program, for example SAGA Humane Society that is aided by the locals as well as International  Organizations such as World Vet. SAGA alongside World Vet offer free spay and neuter days. Even other facilities such as shots and checkups are given free to those who cannot afford it and others that can are asked for a kind donation.  In the islands, it is true, pet control may be a little easier since it is smaller. But each council is responsible for its own area so this control should be of no issue. The inland districts need to join up and form organizations like those of the islands and fund raise for the animals they claim to love so much.  Actions are worth more than words. The Belizean society needs to work together to make a change. The government cannot do everything.

The laws of Belize are clear. We have to take responsibility for our pets. The killing of stray animals is not illegal.  We should not be surprised when the dog laws are actually put into action. According to  the Belize Dog act Chapter 153(10), whenever a dog is seen, in a town, on a highway or in a place of public resort, in any of the following cases (a) not having a collar with a licensing badge for the current year attached thereto (not applicable in San Pedro); or (b) appearing to be a stray or ownerless dog; or (c) being a bitch in heat and being neither led nor carried; or (d) suffering from any contagious disease and not being carried; or (e) suffering from any disease or injury which causes pain to the dog and being neither led nor carried, that dog may be seized by any police officer or dog catcher and the owner of the dog shall in cases (a), (b) and (c) be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars: provided that a person shall not be convicted under paragraph (a) if he proves that no license is required in respect to the dog. In other words your dog can be taken if any of the cases above occur.  The law states that the government has the power to take strays in and you as the responsible owner should make sure that they are safe in your care so that they never end up at the pound. If you cannot take care of the dog then just don’t get one.

The eradication of the pets will not just happen without warning. The Councilors of the town city or village will give enough warning and according to Section 12 (1) three days will be given to people to get their pets from the pound at which the pets are found; section  12 (2)  however states  that the animals which are not claimed after three days  can be disposed of in the manner directed. In addition, the government has the legal right according to section 18(1) to place poison in any street or place of public resort in such city or town for the purpose of poisoning any dog which is at large therein.

Ladies and gentlemen let’s know our laws. Let’s keep our dogs safe and try to work with the government. The dogs are leaving feces around the city. They are suffering daily without a home, proper food or healthcare. If you care for your dog place collars on them, keep them in your yard and if you cannot maintain the siblings spay or neuter them.

For dogs, the neutering and spaying costs approximately $105 dollars, with discount for animals under 50 pounds and for cats the range for neutering or spaying costs about $60 to $70. The cost seems really high and I believe something can be done to decrease the price because, firstly, eradicating the animals will not solve the problem of population. Eradication will simply decreases animals and gives more commodities for the live ones to breed. The solution to control animal population would then be to neuter and spay the pets.

To decrease price in animal control centers, Belize has many science students who can work as interns giving service to pet control organizations. In addition there are many Belizeans who are concerned about the welfare of animals. Organizations even if they are local need to be encouraged to help out the defenseless creatures of our nation. In addition government may feel to be spending a little more for the neutering or spaying but the long term benefits of doing so will be much less costly.

I hope I stirred up some thought, now you tell me ………..Mangy Dog? or Dead Dog? THAT IS THE QUESTION  ………………