The Challenge: Over 800 million dogs share our world, about 40% of whom are "homeless" and spend most of their time on the streets. Homeless dogs, also referred to as street dogs, experience high incidences of disease and injury. Their lives are shorter than those of companion dogs. In general, homeless dogs:
• Do not receive daily food and water from a specific household;
• Usually do not have a safe shelter;
• Do not have their behavior controlled by a particular household; and
• Generally are not vaccinated against rabies or other diseases and lack access to basic veterinary care.
Approximately 75% of puppies born to homeless dogs die before they are a year old.
The presence of homeless dogs also results in adverse outcomes for humans, including dog bites, rabies, other zoonotic diseases, loss of tourism, and harassment of people, other domestic animals, and wildlife. Most of the world's homeless dogs live in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are generally very few homeless dogs in most high-income countries (HICs).
Homeless dog management projects rarely include sufficient engagement with local stakeholders and select short-term actions that do not produce sustainable outcomes. Also, such projects rarely track relevant metrics to determine the impact of the management program.
Campaigns have been launched in the 21st century to eliminate rabies in LMICs in Asia and Africa. While the anti-rabies campaign in Latin America was very successful, progress in Asia and Africa has been limited. A recent review estimated that the direct costs of rabies prevention, including the treatment of dog bites, amounted to around $2 billion a year.
There are many good reasons to develop more effective and humane dog management approaches, including:
• Increases in dog and community well-being,
• Decreases in human disease and injury resulting from dogs,
• Reduced dog nuisance, suffering, and homeless dog numbers, and
• Effective use of the billions of dollars currently spent on humane dog management.
The Solution: A deeper understanding of the well-being of dogs and their communities is needed to solve these challenges. To that end, stakeholders and decision-makers must develop additional knowledge through expanded dog demographic and population studies and analyses. The most humane and effective dog management practices must be identified and implemented, especially for homeless dogs.
WellBeing International launched the Global Dog Campaign (GDC) to address just these issues. Here are the campaign's approaches to begin the journey to end dog hardship and homelessness worldwide, leading to more humane communities for dogs and people.
First, the GDC will augment existing projects via a central global data repository and supporting technical expertise and tools to track both local and global impact over time. A growing number of local, national, and international animal organizations provide direct care for both homeless dogs, but there has been minimal tracking of impact. The campaign will address this deficiency.
Second, the GDC will support selected test sites where existing dog management projects have produced positive outcomes for both people and animals. These test sites will receive direct care and survey support from the GDC. Detailed, data-rich case studies of these projects and their impact will be developed and distributed widely.
Third, successful collaboration among governments/municipalities and community and organizational stakeholders is essential to develop the most effective and efficient solutions to end global dog homelessness and improve communities. The GDC's detailed case studies will be part of global outreach to recruit municipalities and other stakeholders to become part of this global effort. The GDC anticipates that local, national, and international stakeholders will seek to be part of a worldwide movement that implements successful interventions to reduce dog homelessness and suffering community by community, country by country. Ultimately, the GDC aims to eliminate the homeless dog challenge more rapidly and support the development of more humane and sustainable communities worldwide.
There are so many good reasons to develop and implement humane and effective management approaches for homeless dogs. These reasons include reducing human disease contracted from dogs, decreasing dog suffering and dog nuisance, improving community relations, and reducing homeless dog numbers.
Would you please join us in supporting the Global Dog Campaign?