Island Residents Preserve Healthy Dog Population

La oreja marcada con una “S” tatuada significa que el perro ha sido tratado por Spay Panamá

This post is also available in: Spanish

On-the-Water with Ilene Little

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.

The notched ear with the “S” tattoo means this dog has been treated by Spay Panama

The notched ear with the “S” tattoo means this dog has been treated by Spay Panama.

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.

The Problem

Participants in Spay Panama’s mission to Isla Saboga. From left  to right: David, trapper/assistant, Jennifer Scott/ event organizer,  Dr.  Augusto,  Jose  Enrique,  trapper/assistant,  Dr.  Christian  and  kneeling Matias, vet tech

Participants in Spay Panama’s mission to Isla Saboga. From left
to right: David, trapper/assistant, Jennifer Scott/ event organizer,
Dr. Augusto, Jose Enrique, trapper/assistant, Dr. Christian and
kneeling Matias, vet tech.

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.

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