Government shelters in Iraq

The article in the link below was published in local news in the last week and we are just heartbroken that after years of trying to convince local government that the only solution to reduce the amount of dogs on the streets is mass scale TNR the local government has decided that spending 450 million IQD ($300,000) to place all of the dogs in the city in a huge shelter.

We have made introductions to international organisations that specialise in large scale TNR programs but it seems like government are using a knee jerk reaction to people being bitten by street dogs recently to push forward with this shelter plan.  450 million IQD ($300,000) will not be near enough money to build a shelter, provide medical care/spay/neuter/vaccinate and feed thousands of dogs and operate long term.

Last year local government in Sulaymaniyah did the same thing and very quickly there were thousands of dogs being hoarded in a shelter that was not adequately set up, was ill thought out and became a hell hole for dogs.  Within a month of being opened hundreds of dogs died.  The same will happen with a government shelter in Erbil.

Local animal rights groups in Sulaymaniyah spent months defending themselves in the aftermath of the debacle, local residents blamed the welfare groups for the issues and we will end up having to defend ourselves when it goes wrong in Erbil and dogs start dying in horrific ways.

We want to be clear about our stance on the building of government shelters, We WILL NOT support the initiative for something that will effectively be hell on earth for the dogs that are captured and placed there with no viable plan for government to spay/neuter/vaccinate and release, or plans to provide proper medical care. We WILL NOT support a plan that is not viable for the long term, humane reduction of local dog populations, we WILL NOT support the suffering of these dogs.  We have questions we want answers to.

1. How will the captured dogs be fed?

2. What training have you put in place to ensure dog catchers do it safely and humanely?

3. Do you know and understand what happens when large groups of dogs are thrown into a small area and left to it?

4. What plans are in place to vaccinate all of the staff involved with the program against rabies because it literally takes a miracle of epic proportion to find human rabies vaccines in the region?

5. What plans are in place to allow members of the public easy access to rabies vaccination/prophylaxis in the event they are bitten?

6. What have you done to approach WHO and OIE in regards to provision of mass vaccination against rabies?

7. What plans are in place to clear the city of the trash that attracts the dogs in the first place?

8. What plans are in place to do education programs and public service announcements about safety around stray dogs?

9. What plans are in place to have viable laboratories in the city where the relevant tests can be carried out to confirm cases of rabies in dead animals?

10. What plans are in place to ensure well shaded spaces are created inside the shelter?

11. How will you control the spread of TVT which is already rampant in the area?

12. How will you find vets who will agree to humanely euthanise dogs that are too sick or badly injured to help?

13. How will you keep the shelter clean and free of disease?

14. How will you justify spending 450 million IQD ($300,000) of public funding for an initiative that will fail?

15. How will you identify dogs that are carrying rabies? 

16. Will you quarantine every single dog for the duration of vaccination to be sure they are not carrying rabies or just throw them in with the general population and hope for the best?

There are many more questions that local government is not answering or does not have an answer to, this plan is nothing more than short-sighted, knee-jerk reaction that is designed to make local government the heroes.  It will fail.

We implore local government to do the right thing and engage with international expert organisations to implement HUMANE Trap/Neuter/Release programs.  Please do not make this mistake.  Shelters are NOT the solution to the problem.