Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Identifying cats treated with non-surgical fertility control

Benka, V. A. (2015). Ear tips to ear tags. Marking and identifying cats treated with non-surgical fertility control. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 808-815.

Current approaches: Trap–neuter– return (TNR) introduced a humane means of managing free-roaming and feral (‘community’) cats; it also necessitated a method of marking and identifying these cats as sterilized. Although multiple identification methods have been studied or attempted in the field, ear tipping (or, less commonly, ear notching) has proven to be the best option and is used internationally. However, ear tipping must be performed under general anesthesia, and it conveys only binary information: yes, a cat has gone through a TNR program (and is sterilized); or, no, a cat has not gone through a TNR program (and may or may not be sterilized).
Future requirements: Future non-surgical feline fertility control options will require an alternative to ear tipping for identifying community cats, one that does not require anesthesia in order to mark the animal as treated. Long-term contraceptives (vs permanent sterilants) will also require a marker that can denote the time when a cat was last treated.
Objectives and progress: To address this need, the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs is working with an interdisciplinary team from Cornell University, USA, to develop an effective, humane marking method. Their focus is a new generation of ear tag. The prototype design uses different shapes and materials, and a different application process, than tags used to date. The objective is to minimize tag weight, application discomfort, and likelihood of blood loss and infection, while simultaneously allowing for coding of information, including treatment time period.

Contraception implant for cats

Fontaine, C. (2015). Long-term contraception in a small implant A review of Suprelorin (deslorelin) studies in cats. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 766-771.

Rationale: Deslorelin (Suprelorin®; Virbac) is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist licensed in select countries for the long-term suppression of fertility in adult male dogs and male ferrets. This article summarizes studies investigating the use of deslorelin implants for the long-term suppression of fertility in male and female domestic cats.
Evidence base: Slow-release deslorelin implants have been shown to generate effective, safe and reversible long-term contraception in male and female cats. In pubertal cats, a 4.7 mg deslorelin implant suppressed steroid sex hormones for an average of approximately 20 months (range 15–25 months) in males and an average of approximately 24 months (range 16–37 months) in females. Reversibility has been demonstrated by fertile matings approximately 2 years post-treatment in both male and female adult cats. In prepubertal female cats of approximately 4 months of age, puberty was postponed to an average of approximately 10 months of age (range 6–15 months) by a 4.7 mg deslorelin implant.
Challenges: The large variability in the duration of suppression of gonadal activity makes the definition of the optimal time for reimplantation quite challenging. In addition, the temporary stimulation phase occurring in the weeks following deslorelin implantation can induce in adult female cats a fertile estrus that needs to be managed to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Longer duration and larger scale controlled field studies implementing blinding, a negative control group and a carefully controlled randomization to each group are needed. Furthermore, the effects of repeated treatment need to be investigated. Finally, the effect of treatment on growth and bone quality of prepubertal cats needs to be assessed. However, the ease of use, long-lasting effects and reversibility of deslorelin implants are strong positive points supporting their use for controlling feline reproduction.

Use of melatonin to suppress feline reproduction

Kutzler, M. A. (2015). Alternative methods for feline fertility control Use of melatonin to suppress reproduction. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 753-757.

Practical relevance: Reversible contraceptives are highly desired by purebred cat breeders for managing estrous cycles and by scientists managing assisted reproduction programs. A variety of alternative medicine approaches have been explored as methods to control feline fertility.
Scope: In the field of veterinary homeopathy, wild carrot seed and papaya have been used for centuries. Both appear to be safe, but their efficacy as feline contraceptives remains anecdotal. In contrast, the use of melatonin in cats has been investigated in a number of studies, findings from which are reviewed in this article.
Rationale: Cats are seasonally polyestrous (they cycle several times during their breeding season) and are described as long-day breeders because endogenous melatonin negatively regulates estrous cyclicity. Exogenous melatonin administered parenterally also suppresses ovarian activity in cats, and long-term oral or subcutaneous melatonin administration is safe.
Challenges: The therapeutic use of melatonin is limited by its short biological half-life (15–20 mins), its poor oral bioavailability and its central effects in reducing wakefulness. Research is required to determine whether higher doses, longer-release formulations, repeated administration or combination implants might overcome these limitations.

Progestins to control feline reproduction

Romagnoli, S. (2015). Progestins to control feline reproduction Historical abuse of high doses and potentially safe use of low doses. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 743-752.

Relevance: The high fertility rate of cats means that methods to control feline reproduction are a requirement for cat breeders and pet owners, as well as for those involved in the management of feral cat populations. Progestins continue to be used to prevent queens from cycling, and also as an adjunct or alternative to surgical sterilization within trap–neuter–return (TNR) programs.
Evidence base: A considerable body of information exists on megestrol acetate (MA) and medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), thanks to the many studies and case reports published in the scientific literature over the past 50 years documenting their clinical use in cats. Comparatively less is known about the use in cats of more recent progestins such as levonorgestrel, proligestone, delmadinone, chlormadinone and altrenogest.
Dosing, safety and efficacy: Based on a combination of dose, frequency and duration of treatment, MA can be categorized into low (0.625 mg/kg/week for up to 30 weeks), medium (0.625 mg/kg q24h for 1 week or q48h for up to 2 weeks) and high (0.625 mg/kg q24h or q48h for several weeks, or weekly for months or years) dosages. Studies suggest that low dosages can be used relatively safely in cats, while higher dosages increase the risk and severity of adverse reactions. Early work showing that an oral MPA dosage of 0.01 mg/kg administered q24h for 12 months suppresses oestrus in queens effectively and safely has not been considered, and much higher MPA dosages (>6.25 mg/kg q24h) have been used in cats over the past 40 years.
Recommendations: Progestins should always be used with caution. Using the lowest possible dosages, MA and MPA may, however, continue to be used safely in pet queens as well as (in conjunction with TNR programs) for the control of feral cat colonies. More recent progestins appear to be effective and safe, albeit their efficacy and safety need to be further investigated.

No surgery required: the future of feline sterilization

Johnston, S., & Rhodes, L. (2015). No surgery required: the future of feline sterilization. An overview of the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 777-782.

Overview: For many years, researchers have been studying reproduction of cats and dogs, including approaches to non-surgical sterilization, but scant funding has been available for this work. Recognizing the need to fund research and to attract researchers from the biomedical community to apply their expertise to this area, the Michelson Prize & Grants (MPG) in Reproductive Biology program was founded. Since 2009, it has funded 34 research projects in seven countries toward discovery of a safe single-administration lifetime non-surgical sterilant in male and female cats and dogs.
Goal: The goal of the MPG program is the reduction or elimination of the approximately 2.7 million deaths of healthy shelter cats and dogs in the US every year. The successful product is expected to be a single-dose injectable product approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a veterinary prescription item. The most optimistic prediction is that such a product will reach the hands of practicing veterinarians within the next decade.
Areas of research: Active research is in progress using approaches such as immunocontraception with a single-administration vaccine against gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). Long-term therapy with GnRH agonists such as deslorelin administered in controlled-release devices is also being studied. Other scientists are targeting cells in the brain or gonads with cytotoxins, such as are used in cancer chemotherapy. Gene therapy expressing proteins that suppress reproduction and gene silencing of peptides essential to reproduction are further avenues of research. Findings are available at www.michelsonprizeandgrants.org/michelson-grants/research-findings

Attitudes towards fertility control methods in cats

Murray, J. K., Mosteller, J. R., Loberg, J. M., Andersson, M., & Benka, V. A. (2015). Methods of fertility control in cats: Owner, breeder and veterinarian behavior and attitudes. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 790-799.

Overview: Fertility control is important for population management of owned and unowned cats, provides health benefits at the individual level and can reduce unwanted sexually dimorphic behaviors such as roaming, aggression, spraying and calling. This article reviews the available evidence regarding European and American veterinarian, owner and pedigree cat breeder attitudes toward both surgical sterilization and non-surgical fertility control. It additionally presents new data on veterinarians’ and pedigree cat breeders’ use of, and attitudes toward, alternative modalities of fertility control.
Proportion of cats that are neutered: Within the United States and Europe, the proportion of cats reported to be sterilized varies widely. Published estimates range from 27–93% for owned cats and 2–5% for cats trapped as part of a trap–neuter–return (TNR) program. In some regions and populations of cats, non-surgical fertility control is also used. Social context, cultural norms, individual preferences, economic considerations, legislation and professional organizations may all influence fertility control decisions for cats.
Non-surgical methods of fertility control: Particularly in Europe, a limited number of non-surgical temporary contraceptives are available for cats; these include products with regulatory approval for cats as well as some used ‘off label’. Non-surgical methods remove the risk of complications related to surgery and offer potential to treat more animals in less time and at lower cost; they may also appeal to pedigree cat breeders seeking temporary contraception. However, concerns over efficacy, delivery methods, target species safety, duration and side effects exist with current non-surgical options. Research is under way to develop new methods to control fertility in cats without surgery. US and European veterinarians place high value on three perceived benefits of surgical sterilization: permanence, behavioral benefits and health benefits. Non-surgical options will likely need to share these benefits to be widely accepted by the veterinary community.

Modeling to improve TNR

Boone, J. D. (2015). Better trap–neuter–return for free-roaming cats Using models and monitoring to improve population management. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 800-807.

Overview: Trap–neuter–return (TNR) for cat management is transitioning from an enterprise driven mainly by an urge to ‘help’ into an enterprise that draws useful guidance and precedent from the fields of population biology and wildlife management. This transition is in its infancy, however. At the present time many TNR programs do not produce substantial and persistent reductions in cat populations, and those that do often fail to effectively document this achievement or to publicize their success.
Challenges: As a result, TNR has become increasingly controversial, with TNR advocates and wildlife conservationists often staking out fundamentally incompatible positions. This may ultimately prove to be an unproductive debate, since public opinion in developed countries is unlikely to support a total abandonment of TNR in favor of widespread cat management using lethal methods, and since wildlife advocates are unlikely to support TNR as it is typically practiced.
Advancements: In contrast, improving the effectiveness of TNR as a population management tool can benefit both cats and wildlife, potentially on a broad scale. Making these advancements requires the diligent promotion, dissemination and adoption of tools like population modeling, population monitoring and adaptive management. By virtue of their training and exposure to the scientific method, veterinarians are uniquely well positioned to translate the more technical aspects of these approaches to TNR practitioners, and to facilitate their wider use.
Aim: The purpose of this review is to describe for a veterinary audience how to facilitate more effective sterilization-based management of outdoor cats, using a combination of theoretical knowledge derived from population modeling and empirical knowledge derived from population monitoring. Using both of these information sources synergistically can offer a viable pathway to better management outcomes.

Immunocontraception for cats

Benka, V. A., & Levy, J. K. (2015). Vaccines for feline contraception GonaCon GnRH–hemocyanin conjugate immunocontraceptive. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 758-765.

Vaccine: GonaCon™ is the trade name of a GnRH–hemocyanin conjugate immunocontraceptive vaccine formulation shown to prevent reproduction and inhibit production of sex hormones in numerous mammalian species for extended durations. GonaCon is currently registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for contraception of female white-tailed deer, and GonaCon™-Equine for female wild horses and burros. Multiple formulations of this GnRH-hemocyanin conjugate immunocontraceptive vaccine have been developed at the National Wildlife Research Center in the United States.
Evidence base: Three studies employing an early generation vaccine formulation indicated its potential for multi-year contraception of female cats (median duration of effect in excess of 39.7 months). The contraceptive effect for male cats was less predictable and of shorter duration (median duration of effect 14 months). Since these initial feline studies there have been formulation composition changes, and further investigation of the safety, efficacy and duration of this contraceptive vaccine for cats is warranted.
Future prospects: Individual country regulations will determine if GonaCon could be registered for unowned, free-roaming and/or pet cats.

Review of sterilization injections for male cats

Kutzler, M. A. (2015). Intratesticular and intraepididymal injections to sterilize male cats: From calcium chloride to zinc gluconate and beyond. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 772-776.
Aim and rationale: The aim of intratesticular and intraepididymal injections is to provide an inexpensive non-surgical method for sterilizing tom cats. Intratesticular and intraepididymal injections have been studied for decades and warrant continued investigation. While both methods result in azoospermia, intratesticular injection of sclerosing agents induces orchitis, resulting in decreased spermatogenesis, whereas intraepididymal injection blocks sperm transport but does not alter spermatogenesis.
Evidence base: Sclerosing agents that have been used effectively for intratesticular injections in cats include calcium chloride dihydrate and zinc gluconate. For sclerosis by intraepididymal injections, chlorhexidine digluconate has been used successfully in cats. The volume, formulation and concentration of sclerosing agents for intratesticular and intraepididymal injections in cats have not been standardized.
Challenges: Neither intratesticular nor intraepididymal injections entirely eliminate gonadal testosterone production, which may be undesirable for pet cats and therefore may restrict the application of this method of sterilization to feral cats with limited human contact. In addition, both methods may require sedation or general anesthesia, leading some to support routine castration over these non-surgical methods. Lastly, even if the technique is successful in inducing permanent sterility, normal fertility may persist in treated males for 1–2 months after treatment because of sperm present within the epididymis and vas deferens.

Non-surgical contraceptives for use in cats and dogs

Rhodes, L. 2015. Getting non-surgical contraceptives approved for use in cats and dogs. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 17 (9): 783-789

Relevance: Non-surgical contraceptives or sterilants need regulatory approval to be sold for that use. This approval process gives veterinarians the information required to assess the benefits and risks of each product, and to provide comprehensive information on the required dose, method and duration of use, safety and effectiveness.
Aim: This article reviews the information that must be developed and provided to regulatory agencies worldwide, with a focus on the European Union and the United States, in order to achieve regulatory approval.
Processes: The main components of developing a drug include developing extensive information on the safety and effectiveness of the product, and also the safety to the environment and to humans handling and administering the drug. Most importantly, a robust method of manufacturing both the drug itself and the formulated drug product (pill, liquid implant or injection) must be developed to assure quality and consistency in each batch. This information is then compiled and submitted to regulatory agencies; in the United States, this includes the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, and, in Europe, the European Medicines Agency.
Challenges: Because of the unique nature of non-surgical contraceptives for use in cats and dogs, particularly the desire to have these products last over multiple years, there are special challenges to their regulatory approval that are discussed in this review.

Non-surgical fertility control: current and future options for cat health and welfare

Briggs, J. (2015). Non-surgical fertility control: current and future options for cat health and welfare. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(9), 740-741.

The 10 articles in this issue are authored by experts in the field and are, for the most part, review articles. Five cover specific contraceptives used to date for cats, or the limited array of sterilants and contraceptives being researched or used off-label in cats in the past decade. The emergence in 2008 of a USD$25 million prize and up to $50 million in grant funds has spurred more research than ever before, and in a number of novel areas. A glimpse into that new work is shared by the Director of Scientific Research for the Found Animals Foundation, the parent organization for this initiative: the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Stray cats and dogs exclude native predators in Madagascar

Farris, Z. J., Kelly, M. J., Karpanty, S., & Ratelolahy, F. (2015). Patterns of spatial co‐occurrence among native and exotic carnivores in north‐eastern Madagascar. Animal Conservation.

Human populations continue to increase and encroach on remaining natural habitats worldwide, resulting in greater numbers and larger ranges of commensal exotic carnivores such as cats and dogs. This results in increased interactions with native wildlife. In Madagascar, we know relatively little about the effects of domestic and/or feral dogs and cats on native carnivore populations. We investigated spatial interactions by combining photographic sampling across seven sites with two-species co-occurrence modeling to provide the first assessment of the spatial co-occurrence of native and exotic carnivores in Madagascar, including an examination of habitat characteristics that explain these relationships. Our surveys from 2008 to 2013 accumulated 2991 photo-captures of native and exotic carnivores in 8854 trap nights. We found that native and exotic carnivores in rainforest habitat occur together less often than expected and that exotic carnivores may be replacing native carnivores, particularly in forest areas nearest villages. Six of the native carnivores in this study had higher site use in the absence of exotic carnivores and their species interaction factors (SIF) revealed a lack of co-occurrence (e.g. SIF < 1.0). We found that nocturnal and/or crepuscular native carnivores were less likely to co-occur with exotic carnivores. We demonstrate the effectiveness of combining photographic sampling with co-occurrence modeling to investigate the effects of exotic carnivores on an entire community of native carnivores. Our study exposes the strong negative influence of exotic carnivores, ranging from exclusion to complete replacement of native carnivores, and we urgently recommend a combination of targeted educational programs and removal programs to combat the influx of exotic carnivores.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Feeding habits of house and feral cats on small Adriatic islands

Lanszki J., Kletečki E., Trócsányi B., Mužinić J., Széles G.L. & Purger J.J. 2015  (in press) Feeding habits of house and feral cats (Felis catus) on small Adriatic islands (Croatia). North-Western Journal of Zoology (online first): art.151708

The domestic cat (Felis catus), a globally recognised invasive predator, was introduced to the Adriatic islands (Croatia), but its feeding ecology and impacts on biodiversity in this region is unknown. We studied the feeding habits of house cats living in villages and feral cats on the outskirts of villages on two small islands (Olib and Silba) by analysing faecal samples collected in the spring and autumn periods. Our hypothesis was that the feeding strategies of cats as top mammalian predators vary in different environments, due to significant dissimilarities in their food resources. We surveyed the abundance of cats and their primary food types, e.g. small mammals, birds, rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, and lizards. Our results suggest that house cats fed most often on birds and household food, while feral cats ate mostly small mammals and lizards. Feral cats preferred the invasive mesopredator black rat (Rattus rattus) (Ivlev’s index of preference, feral cats Ei = 0.72, house cats Ei = 0.14), suggesting that cats might have an effect on rat populations. Common rabbits had a low density and were preyed on only occasionally. In both cat groups, predation on birds was more frequent during autumn migration when bird abundance was higher, than in the spring breeding period. Both groups were food generalists but in different ways, which is a fact that should be considered in planning predator pest control on the islands.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Lack of hybridization between wild and domestic cats explained by spatial segregation

Gil-Sánchez, J. M., Jaramillo, J., & Barea-Azcón, J. M. (2015). Strong spatial segregation between wildcats and domestic cats may explain low hybridization rates on the Iberian Peninsula. Zoology.

The European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is an endangered felid impacted by genetic introgression with the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus). The problem of hybridization has had different effects in different areas. In non-Mediterranean regions pure forms of wildcats became almost extinct, while in Mediterranean regions genetic introgression is a rare phenomenon. The study of the potential factors that prevent the gene flow in areas of lower hybridization may be key to wildcat conservation. We studied the population size and spatial segregation of wildcats and domestic cats in a typical Mediterranean area of ancient sympatry, where no evidence of hybridization had been detected by genetic studies. Camera trapping of wild-living cats and walking surveys of stray cats in villages were used for capture–recapture estimations of abundance and spatial segregation. Results showed (i) a low density of wildcats and no apparent presence of putative hybrids; (ii) a very low abundance of feral cats in spite of the widespread and large population sources of domestic cats inhabiting villages; (iii) strong spatial segregation between wildcats and domestic/feral cats; and (iv) no relationship between the size of the potential population sources and the abundance of feral cats. Hence, domestic cats were limited in their ability to become integrated into the local habitat of wildcats. Ecological barriers (habitat preferences, food limitations, intra-specific and intra-guild competition, predation) may explain the severe divergences of hybridization impact observed at a biogeographic level. This has a direct effect on key conservation strategies for wildcats (i.e., control of domestic cats).

 Read more on domestic wild feline hybridisation with domestic cat

Dog spay/neuter project in Turkey

Klinge, N., & Taal, L. (2015). Spay/neuter project Ayvalik Turkey.

The aim of this report is to show that problems with a surplus of street dogs in European countries can be solved humanely, cost-effectively and permanently using the appropriate methods and set of measures. Some authorities facing a surplus of free roaming dogs still turn to indiscriminate catch, kennel and kill policies expecting the number of free roaming dogs to decrease. Some authorities imprison free roaming dogs for life by implementing new animal welfare laws with no kill strategies. Both policies however, will not have any effect on the root cause of the problem and have no long-term effect on the reduction of the street dog population. In Europe the source of the street dog problem is not feral dogs foraging for food.
The most reproductively successful dogs are those with owners, feeders or protectors. Therefore the problem is not the dogs themselves. We need to enlist the help of the politicians funding animal birth
control projects and implementing animal welfare laws as well as the citizens feeding and protecting dogs to have all fertile dogs sterilized.
The seaside town Ayvalik in the North West of Turkey is no exception. Animal welfare organizations in Ayvalik reported a substantial population of free roaming dogs. Since 2004 the Turkish Animal Protection Law 5199 was designed to ensure that animals are afforded a comfortable life and receive good and proper treatment, to protect them in the best manner possible from the infliction of pain, suffering and torture, and to prevent all types of cruel treatment. Article 6 describes the collection and management of stray animals.
This report also describes the unexpected events that might occur during a spay/neuter project.

Demography of owned dogs and cats in São Paulo State

Baquero, O. S., Chiozzotto, E. N., Garcia, R. D. C. M., Amaku, M., & Ferreira, F. (2015). Demographic characteristics of owned dogs and cats of Votorantim, São Paulo State, Brazil. Ciência Rural, (AHEAD), 00-00.

A two-stage cluster sample design was used to estimate population parameters of dogs and cats of the urban area of Votorantim, São Paulo State, Brazil, to support the planning and implementation of population management programs for companion animals. For dogs, the total and density estimates were 27,241 dogs (95% confidence interval [CI]=23,903-30,578) and 951 dogs km-2 (95% CI=835-1,068), respectively. For cats, these estimates were 5,579 cats (95% CI=3,595-7,562) and 195 cats km-2 (95% CI=126-264). Cost was the most prevalent reason for not sterilizing the animals (33%, 95% CI=23%-44%, Deff=6.1). The percentage of interviewees that expressed reasons for abandoning their animals was equal to 9 (95% CI=5-13, Deff=2.1). Other estimates were obtained, including indirect estimates of abandonment. The estimates associated with abandonment suggest that the prevalence of this phenomenon can significantly affect population dynamics. Distribution of dogs per household can be used to construct hypothetical populations and to validate estimation procedures. The estimates generated allow parameterizing mathematical models and constructing population management indicators

Friday, 4 September 2015

Review of cat behaviour in relation to disease risk and management options

Lepczyk, C. A., Lohr, C. A., & Duffy, D. C. (2015). A review of cat behavior in relation to disease risk and management options. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are a common household pet and also a notorious invasive species around the world. Because cat numbers have been increasing in many locations it is critical to work on management solutions that help to reduce threats posed by cats. With regard to cat behavior, one of the threats both to cats themselves and the species that they interact with is disease transmission. As part of a broader overview on applying cat behavior to management the focus of this review is to consider different types of cat behaviors and highlight how they relate to disease as a means to help inform management. Specifically, we focus on cat movement, foraging, and cat–human interactions as broad classes of cat behavior that can lead to acquisition and transmission of diseases. In addition, we review the diseases that are commonly harbored by cats, are of growing human health concern, and for which we have reasonable information. Finally, we review the main forms of cat management in order to provide a set of recommendations for use in addressing cat diseases.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Population dynamics and health status of free-roaming dogs in Bhutan

Rinzin, K. 2015. Population dynamics and health status of free-roaming dogs in Bhutan. Thesis disertation. Murdoch UniversityWestern Australia 

In 2009 a capture-neuter-vaccinate-release (CNVR) programme commenced in Bhutan to control the dog population and to reduce the number of cases of rabies in humans and other animals. Limited understanding of the community’s attitudes towards dog population control and the population dynamics of the free-roaming dog population in Bhutan motivated the study reported in this thesis.
Household surveys were undertaken in six Dzongkhags to determine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the community towards dog population control and to describe the demographics and management of owned dogs. Approximately 90% of the Bhutanese community believed that stray dogs were a problem to society and 77% believed they presented a threat to human health. Most participants (84%) were in favour of dog population control with birth control being the preferred method. A need to develop educational programmes on rabies and the dog population specifically
targeting farmers and women from rural areas was identified. The total owned dog population was estimated at 71,245 with 24.4% of the households in the urban areas and 0.8% of the households in rural areas owning dogs. Forty percent of dog owners did not confine their dogs. Based on the number of owned dogs and the ratio of owned to stray dogs presented to the CNVR clinic, the stray dog population was estimated at 48,379.
The population characteristics of both owned and stray dogs that were presented to CNVR clinics from 01 July 2011 to 30 June 2013 were described. More than half (53.3%) of the dogs presented to the CNVR clinic were free-roaming dogs, with comparable numbers of males and females presented. Although pregnant bitches were seen throughout the year, more pregnancies were observed from September to December.
Field population survey undertaken in the main towns of six Dzongkhags to estimate the programme’s coverage in January and February 2012 showed overall CNVR coverage of 52% ranging from 32% in Bumthang to 72% in Samdrup Jongkhar. Field population survey was undertaken in Thimphu city to estimate the size of the free-roaming dog population and to assess the health status of dogs. The free-roaming dog population in Thimphu Municipal area was highest in June 2011 at 6,033 (95% CI 5,644 – 6,430), prior to which there had been no CNVR campaign for 15 months. From July 2011 to September 2014 the free-roaming dog population size remained relatively constant (range 5,765 to 5,949 dogs) as CNVR campaigns were regularly carried out. Neutered dogs had a significantly lower prevalence of antibodies to canine distemper virus (44.2%) and canine parvovirus CPV (4.0%) than entire dogs (52.9 & 18.4%, respectively) (P < 0.01); and neutered dogs had significantly higher body condition scores than entire dogs (P < 0.01).
The studies presented in this thesis have demonstrated that the success of a CNVR programme will depend on the initial planning of the programme which includes assessing the size of the local dog population and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the programme. To effectively control the dog population in Bhutan and to address problems associated with free-roaming dogs, it is recommended that: regular CNVR programmes are carried out throughout the country; female dogs, especially during the breeding season, are specifically targeted; programmes are monitored regularly;
community participation in programmes is encouraged; and legislation on responsible dog ownership is implemented.
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