City Council rids city of stray dogs

The City Council’s stray dog eradication program has been a contentious issue for over a decade because of the use of strychnine poisoning, which is considered cruel and inhumane. Still, the program continues and is carried out up to three times a year. It falls under the Public Health portfolio, which is held by Councilor Wayne Usher and he told us today that they targeted one hundred and forty-five strays across the city on Monday night. But we didn’t find evidence of the eradication process around the city today and Usher says that’s because the cleanup starts from as early as one a.m. And while he explains the public health aspect of it, Usher is also against the inhumane method, which is required by law.

Wayne Usher, City Councilor Responsible for Public Health

“We get all year round requests for this because two things; the public health aspect and there’s a nuisance aspect as well where the dogs attack, especially people who are jogging late evening or early morning; the dogs attack them sometimes. And there’s the nuisance factor where they are barking at even shadows and wake up the neighbors and then they fight amongst each other and there’s a big hullaballoo. Then they get into the public health side where they tear up the garbage, exposed garbage; all types, the bags they tear them open and then if they bite you, you know there’s chance of infection.”

Delahnie Bain

Wayne Usher

“There has been concern in the past about the method used, is it still being done using strychnine?”

Wayne Usher

“I am very happy you asked that question. We are not happy using strychnine to take out the dogs. When I say we—those of us at the council, myself in particular who is in charge of this program—we are not happy about it but I want to say this publically. The laws of Belize, the public health laws say that that is the method for us to use. Strychnine is the poison to be used according to our public health laws. Now, I would be the first to say this. I want to change that. I want us to have a more humane method for putting the dogs down. When we visited Chetumal last week, they used the method that I want to adopt, which is to impound the dogs, catch them first, impound them and then try and rehabilitate them, ask people to adopt them and if all of that fails, then we euthanize the dogs and put them down in a more gentle, humane fashion.”

Usher says that the council has started the process to try to have the law changed.

Channel 5