Thursday, 14 May 2015

Dogs and Society Workshop in Santiago, Chile - May 2015

Last week saw the JMICAWE’s Director Prof Nat Waran and Veterinary Outreach Manager Heather Bacon in Chile, for the start of a joint initiative between Edinburgh University's Jeanne Marchig International Animal Welfare Centre and the Sustainability Research Centre at Universidad Andres Bello.




The purpose of the one day workshop was to bring together key Researchers, Academics, Policy Makers and NGOs to discuss the issues relating to interactions between people and dogs in Chile. The objective was to develop a joint understanding of the human- dog relationship and to explore how, through research and policy, it may be possible to use evidence-based humane approaches to managing health and welfare concerns relating to increasing dog ownership. These concerns can include pet behaviour problems, pet neglect and abandonment and associated high numbers of dogs in shelters, as well as public health and animal welfare issues associated with increasing number of stray and street dogs within Chile.
Dogs present an international dilemma. In most countries they are considered to be ‘man’s best friend’, and pet numbers are increasing along with veterinary treatment possibilities and a strong pet food and product industry. Yet they are also considered as pests, being seen in some parts of the world as a public health problem due to dog bites and associated injuries, as well as the risk of disease or parasite transmission, such as rabies.
The number of dogs in Chile is estimated to be over 3 million, with a median human per dog ratio of 4.8. As with other parts of the world, the presence of an uncontrolled canine population poses risks not just to the health and welfare of the public, but also environmental health risks and concerns for the welfare of the dogs themselves.
Dogs are attracted to places where humans live and often this will bring them into conflict resulting in damage to property and injury to humans and dogs. Because stray dogs are so clearly visible in the streets, they attract the attention of the public and tourists, with rising numbers of dog bites sometimes leading to life-threatening consequences. In various parts of the world, management of the expanding dog population has involved the implementation of animal breeding control programmes along with vaccinations campaigns to tackle zoonotic disease risks, alongside education programmes for children to help with safety awareness.
We will keep you up-to-date with our work in Chile, but in the mean time if you are interested in learning more about Street dogs, why not watch our short film dedicated to them on YouTube?


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