Thursday, 14 August 2014

JMICAWE: Improving dog welfare through research

As we know, dog overpopulation is a significant issue in some countries, leading to bites, infectious disease and conflict with humans. Trap-neuter-return or TNR is advocated by both animal welfare groups and the OIE as a useful tool in controlling dog populations – however what is the experience of the dog?
We often hear that a project has neutered several thousands of dogs – but how were those dogs caught? Were any injured or killed? Did they receive analgesia or adequate anaesthesia? Could TNR programmes sometimes be creating welfare problems by focussing on the population rather than the individual?

These are all questions that we wanted to answer as part of JMICAWE's Dogs Trust funded research project – after all, ‘What we can measure, we can manage’ and if we can identify key problem areas in TNR programmes, those problems can then be fixed.
With this in mind Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters from the JMICAWE team travelled to Botswana to develop and refine an evaluation scheme to assess the welfare of individual dogs within a TNR programme. The programme that was selected was that run by the Maun Animal Welfare Society in Botswana, a project with an excellent reputation. This project was chosen as we knew it would be well run, and we wanted to validate the criteria we had selected for assessment to see if they would be practical in an established project setting.

The trip was extremely useful in highlighting which welfare measures could be applied in a TNR setting and which could not, and the healthy, much-loved dogs in Maun are a testament to the hard work of MAWS in running the project.
We’re now in the process of refining our welfare assessment for dogs in TNR and will be validating this later on in the year in India.

For more information on MAWS please see

KC - the fantastic veterinary assistant at MAWS

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