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Feb 26, 2004

New strategies sought for stray dogs

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There are few sights more pitiful than that of an emaciated diseased dog limping down the street… or more frightening than an aroused pack of vicious canines ready to pounce on anything resembling a meal. In either case, it’s a big problem that authorities must confront. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods, herself a proud dog owner, went out looking for some solutions.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

This dog, which appears to be part pit bull, was more than likely abandoned by his owner and left to fend for itself on the city streets. The problem with stray dogs is that because no one wants them, they break garbage bags in their quest to find food, foul neighbourhoods with their waste, and become carriers of disease or infection. The only solution was to put these animals down, which the Belize City Council did by lacing pieces of meat with the poison like strychnine and feeding it to the dogs.

Darlene Gentle, President, Belize Humane Society

“When they get the poison, some of them, it takes them a very long time before they die and it’s really not the best humane way to put down the animals when they are really sick. The Humane Society does not support that. As a matter of fact, the humane societies around the world do not support it and they are not using it in those other countries as far as we know.”

The Belize Humane Society is proposing a more humane way of putting the dogs to sleep. It’s called euthanasia and the method allows the animals to have an easy death. President of the Belize Humane Society, Darlene Gentle, says the Belize City Council approached them to see how they can work together to address the problem of stray animals in a manner that would be in the best interest of everyone involved.

Darlene Gentle

“What we want to do is rotate the round ups. For example, we will do a daytime roundup on the northside one month, the following month we will do a night time roundup for the southside, the following month we do the northside in the evening and southside in the morning, we’ll kind of rotate it.”

“We plan on using some kind of dye on the animal. So if we see a healthy dog on the street in the night, we put the dye on the animal. And if that dog belongs to you and you see that dye in the morning, that dog is in your yard tomorrow morning, that’s one way of telling us who the owner of that dog is if that dog doesn’t have on a proper tag or collar on it. And in a way what we’ll be doing is educating those people, telling them that their dogs are on the street, they need to keep them in their yard, they need to tag them properly, put on collars, leashes, and stuff like that.”

All stray animals will be taken to a temporary holding facility on the Western Highway where they will be tended until a permanent centre is established.

Darlene Gentle

“We have a property up on the Western Highway and we are going to establish a property there. We are currently in the process of fencing the property. What we want to do is take the strays off the street and use the facility to put down the sick and really injured ones. Those that show promise, we want to get them healthy, spay them, neuter them and put them up for adoption.”

Gentle says the public will be given a two-week notice before the programme comes into effect. But if you would like more information you can contact B.H.S. at telephone number 223-5963. Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

The Belize Humane Society says they are also encouraged by the progress they have been making in getting an educational programme introduced in the schools that will teach students the proper care of their animals.

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