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

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Attitudes of residents and tourists towards stray dogs in Samoa

Farnworth, M., Blaszak, K., Hiby, E. F., & Waran, N. K. (2012). Incidence of dog bites and public attitudes towards dog care and management in Samoa. Animal welfare. 21 : 477-486.

In many developing nations, dogs (Canis familiaris) present a significant issue in terms of human health, safety and animal welfare. We assessed attitudes towards dogs and their management in Samoa, a developing South Pacific island nation, using a questionnaire. It demonstrated that Samoa has one of the world’s highest recorded levels of household dog ownership (88%) but a comparatively low rate of vaccination (12%) and sterilisation (19%). Those interviewed believe dogs were important and should be considered part of the family; however most households reported that their dogs were kept for protection (79%). There was a clear skew in the sex distribution. The dog population showed a strong male bias (71%) suggesting females are removed from the population. Of those surveyed only 16% had received any education about dogs and their management and overall the respondents showed a clear disparity between attitudes and behaviour (eg the majority believe dogs should be vaccinated [81%] yet most dogs in this sample [72%] had never been to a veterinarian). Overall, there was a willingness to manage the free-roaming dog population which was considered by many to be a nuisance, however there were few enforceable mechanisms by which this could occur and most dogs were not confined. Harm or killing of dogs was relatively commonplace with 30% of households reporting they knew someone who had harmed or killed a dog and 26% of respondents indicating they believed harming or killing dogs was good for Samoan society, presumably by reducing problems associated with the free-roaming population. Dog bites were relatively frequent in Samoa and reports from two hospitals indicated a frequency of 37 new bites per annum requiring hospitalisation per 10,000 head of population. Furthermore, this paper outlines strategies and further research that could be considered to improve dog welfare and reduce the need to harm or kill dogs, namely improvements in veterinary provision and dog-focused education. It also considers the need for legislative controls and more research and funding to be made available for small developing nations to explore their animal welfare obligations.

Beckman, M., Hill, K. E., Farnworth, M. J., Bolwell, C. F., Bridges, J., & Acke, E. (2014). Tourists’ Perceptions of the Free-Roaming Dog Population in Samoa.Animals, 4(4), 599-611.

Simple Summary: For travelers, the way in which people in other nations interact with animals may be different to that in their home nation. This research explores how the treatment of dogs impacted upon the holiday experiences of tourists visiting a developing island nation. In general, and where tourists encountered dogs, their treatment was perceived as less positive than in their home country and had a negative impact upon the holiday experience. Although it is important to recognize that the local population will have a different worldview, tourists felt that the dog population required more effective management and were most supportive of techniques that were non-lethal and humane.
Abstract: A study was undertaken to establish how visiting tourists to Samoa perceived free-roaming dogs (Canis familiaris) and their management, additionally some factors that influence their perceptions were assessed. Questionnaires were administered to 281 tourists across Samoa over 5 weeks. Free-roaming dogs were seen by 98.2% (n = 269/274) of respondents, with 64.9% (n = 137/211) reporting that their presence had a negative effect on overall holiday experience. Respondents staying in the Apia (capital city) area were more likely to consider dogs a problem (p < 0.0001), and there was a significant association between whether the respondent owned a dog and if they thought dogs were a nuisance in Samoa (p < 0.003). Forty-four percent (20/89) of non-dog owners agreed that dogs were a nuisance compared to 22% (80/182) of dog owners. The majority felt that dogs required better control and management in Samoa (81%, n = 222) and that there were too many “stray” dogs (67.9%, n = 188). More respondents were negatively affected by the dogs’ presence (64.9%, 137/211), and felt that the dogs made their holiday worse, than respondents that felt the dogs’ presence improved their holiday experience (35.1%, 74/211). Most respondents stated that the dogs had a low impact (one to three; 68%, 187/275) on their stay in Samoa, whilst 24% (65/275) and 8% (23/275) stated they had a medium or high impact, respectively, on their stay. Respondents showed strong support for humane population management. Free-roaming dogs present a complex problem for Samoa and for its tourism industry in particular. The findings of this study further support the need for more discussion and action about the provision of veterinary services and population management for dogs in Samoa. It also provides information complementing an earlier study of the attitudes of local Samoans.

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