City Council rids city of stray dogs

Posted By: Marty

City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/27/11 03:03 PM

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

Posted By: PROBUS

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/27/11 10:59 PM

I simply do not believe that the law says that stray dogs must be destroyed by strychnine poisoning.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/28/11 12:59 AM

Chapter 153.18 Dogs Act
Posted By: Chica Blanca

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/28/11 08:00 PM

Yes it is the law to use strychnine, as a last resort. It would be nice to have the law changed and local town councils support a dog catcher and dog pound, which is also stipulated in the law through dog licensing fees. Then Belize can be rid of this inhumane practice that is so disgraceful to many.

Belize Dogs Act-
18.-(1) Subject to this section, the licensing authority of any city or town may place poison in any street or place of public resort in such city or town for the purpose of poisoning any dog which is at large therein.
(2) (a) The poison used shall be a preparation of strychnine in capsule

This is why it is important to spay or neuter your animals and keep them on your property not "at large". Support your local Humane Society whether it be in Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Cayo or Hopkins.

Coleen Creeden
SAGA Humane Society
Posted By: PROBUS

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/29/11 02:40 AM

Originally Posted by Chica Blanca
it is the law to use strychnine, as a last resort

The way it was reported above it is mandatory to use it in all circumstances, not just as a last resort. That is what it said, and that is what seemed to me unlikely. Not that use of strychnine is permitted, which is bad enough, but that no other method is allowed.

It seems that that is the case, which frankly astonishes me. I wonder what effect that would have on tourism if it were widely promulgated.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/29/11 08:34 PM

The effect of this information on this Island was in part - Saga.
And the effect of Saga was a great improvement in the life of islanders (with two and four legs).
People don't step up to help unless they know there is a problem.

Posted By: Marty

Re: City Council rids city of stray dogs - 07/30/11 05:29 PM

Strychnine for canines; Councilor Wayne Usher says he will advocate change

For decades, the system of eradication of stray dogs in Belize has been through the use of one of the most aggressive forms of poisons, called strychnine. This poison is a white powder which is odorless. Strychnine causes extreme pain to its victim, causing the animal’s muscles to go into spasms, leading to death.

This poison is fatal not only swallowed; even a simple exposure can lead to poisoning, as it can be inhaled.

Wayne Usher, Councilor for Public Health, told us that while the Belize City Council does give orders to carry out the eradication process, he is against the use of that specific poison due to its inhumane effects on its victim.

About three times per year, stray dogs are killed using this poison, and the council spends about $7,500 on the entire process. Usher says that while he is against the use of it, he would be breaking the law if he were to use another form of poison because of the Public Health law which specifies the use of strychnine to kill stray dogs.

While most would agree that their encounters with what Usher refers to as a “nuisance”, the stray dog, is not all the time a bad encounter. There are reports by others who claim that some are rabid, aggressive and downright mischievous; meaning the barking and their destruction of public garbage.

However, is that reason enough to cause them extreme pain at the end of their already pathetic and sorrowful existence?

Usher told us that he is sickened by the thought of these animals enduring such discomfort, and that as an elected councilor he is working on a plan to make amendments to the law governing the use of this specific poison.

He also explained that he would like to get other NGOs on board, for example, the Humane Society and the Ministry of Agriculture, who could implement, or better facilitate, the outlet of spaying and neutering.

In Belize the cost of spaying and neutering animals is actually very inexpensive e.g. for dogs weighing between 50-100 lbs the cost is around $112, and for females it is around $202, and above100 lbs, for males is around $135, and females $225.

The last poisoning of stray dogs in Belize City was conducted on Monday, July 25, and Tuesday 26. On those two days, a total of 273 stray dogs were killed.

On La Isla Bonita, however, stray dogs need not worry, because the Saga Humane Society receives international funding, but is run primarily by locals. On their website, they specifically touch on the topic of strychnine’s usage in the city, admitting that that was the issue at the core of their formation.

The Saga website states, “The Saga Humane Society was founded in March of 1999, mainly in response to the animal control measures used in Belize: strychnine-laced bait tossed onto the streets at night for any animal unlucky enough to be wandering around and hungry”.

The Saga Society has even taken a proactive step in containing the dog population through spaying and neutering dogs at a very affordable cost and offering a more humane way of euthanizing dogs, as well.

While most may view these stray dogs as pests and nuisances, it is fair to say that they still fall under “man’s best friend,” and deserve a level of protection.

On “The Telegraph” website we note that in Greece, the government has begun discussing measures in implementing protective laws for animals. The website states, “The Greek government has expressed a desire to give more protection to animals and introduced tougher laws last year. Antonia Kanellopoulou, the deputy mayor of Athens, said: “Stray animals need our love.”

A few Belizeans have also taken to beating the dog for its own instinctive nature, which is to get food.

A woman said that she saw a man who had just arrived at the park put his food on the seawall, turning for a second to retrieve an item from his car, only to return to find a stray dog eating his food.

She explained that she had to shout at the man to stop, because he had begun beating the dog with a baseball bat, after which he apologized, realizing that the mishap was for him to have left his food unattended.

Usher told us that he is also looking into other means of humanely killing stray dogs by use of other means other than strychnine.

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