This post is also available in: Spanish
The new recognizable sign of a “healthy dog” in Panama is the letter “S” tattooed on the inside of a dog’s notched ear.
The “S” insignia means Spay Panama has neutered or spayed and vaccinated the dog against common diseases.
On October 19 and 20, Saboga Island residents and business owners organized a two-day “healthy dog day” to educate dog owners, round up strays, and take control of any sick dogs that could present a health risk to the island community.
Sea Las Perlas and Ferry Las Perlas provided free transportation for two veterinarians and three professional dog trackers who form part of the Spay Panama team. Accommodations and meals were provided by island residents. A raffle was held to encourage villagers and dog owners to participate in the activity and heighten the awareness about the importance of having a healthy dog population.
Dr. Augusto Barragan was the lead veterinarian and was accompanied by Dr. Christian Toribio. Two of the village leaders on Saboga, Teribio and Cucho, took over the event organization.
Trapping Stray Dogs
Patricia Chan, Director and Founder of Spay Panama explained how stray dogs are caught: “three dog trappers use a dart gun, mainly for the stray animals that have no contact with humans. Where there’s a feeder (someone who feeds the animals), we’d rather work with him so he can handle the animal.”
“The trackers are on foot working with the Corregidor (the local law enforcer). It’s very important to get the local authorities involved, because they have power to obligate people to take advantage of the spay and neuter program,” said Chan.
Dog and cat overpopulation is a threat to public health, because a lot of animals are sick and they spill garbage looking for something to eat.
“There is a high incidence of transmissible venereal tumor disease (TVT) among dogs. It is not transmissible to human beings, but it’s still a health hazard. To treat infected dogs would require about four sessions of chemotherapy and really it’s almost impossible to treat those animals, so the best thing is to put them down,” said Chan.
“You can easily spot the raw tumors which start to bleed and attract flies, and eventually the animal dies a horrible death. It’s a threat to public health and it’s not a good image for any community to have sick animals,” she added.
Chan reports, “27 dogs previously sterilized in August, 2013 were treated on this visit, 24 dogs were euthanized, and 47 dogs sterilized.”
Euthanizing diseased or injured animals
“If an animal is critically injured or diseased and has a guardian, we will ask the approval of the guardian to put the animal out of its misery and if it’s a stray animal, the Corregidor can authorize the foundation to euthanize the animal which means putting the dog to death humanely,” said Chan.
In September, Spay Panama went to Pedro Gonzales, and they will go to Contadora before the end of this year. They have also visited Taboga and Isla Grande.
For more information on Spay Panama and to find out how they can help your community, visit their website Spaypanama.org.