Police in Samoa to begin rolling out dog registration
The police in Samoa are to begin rolling out a national dog registration system this month, as part of its long term solutions for the country's stray dog problem.
The police in Samoa are to begin rolling out a national dog registration system this month, as part of its long term solution for the country's stray dog problem.
After an increase in the number of people being treated for dog bites, and complaints from tourists about dogs, the Canine Control Act was passed last year, with the police as the lead agency.
The police say while they hope to have made good progress in dog control before the Small Island Developing States conference later this year, the Act is about ensuring a long term solution.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
The Assistant Commissioner of police, Afamasaga Michael Soonalole, says the programme is foremost about safety for the public, including visitors to Samoa. He says the police are working with Local Government NZ to put in place a dog registration system, dog control processes and a dog shelter. Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says this isn't the first time there has been a registration law for dogs, however, the previous law was never put into action. He says most people are in support of a dog registration system.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: Families, sometimes they own more than 5 dogs, and the problem with that is most of those dogs, they just roam around, they're not well looked after by families who own them, and I think having the Canine Control Act will put families into [having] some kind of responsibility to look after their animals well and to make sure they are to be registered and they also must keep their animals in a safe place to make sure the dogs don't go out and attack people.
The police say public education will be a vital part of the process with a strong focus on de-sexing.
Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the programme is well overdue and education is needed especially in rural areas.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: I think the percentage of people that are really taking responsibility on de-sexing the dogs are people in the urban areas. But the problem is, if people in the urban area are still not getting good knowledge about it, the problem will continue to go on.
The business manager of the Samoa Animal Protection Society, Fale Neemia Smith, says they continue to do all they can to help with the stray dog problem in the country.
FALE NEEMIA SMITH: We're still doing, what we have been doing for years, like de-sexing. Our vets have also been out with our staff members to patrol the area for any sick animals that need to be de-sexed and treated, but we are relying on other ministries to help us because we don't have the funding. Medicine and drugs are very, very expensive, and we're not in the position to just go out and clean all stray animals in town.
New Zealand charity group, South Pacific Animal Welfare, is working with the Samoa Animal Protection Society to create a one week mass spay and neuter programme for free in August. Its founder, Karen Galvan, says in that one week they expect to desex about 150 dogs, which is an indication of how big the issue is.
KAREN GALVAN:It does take considerable investment and time, for SPAW to be going up and desexing 150 - 200 animals in one week, while that makes an incredible change to the lives of those 200 dogs, they're all worthy lives and worthy souls, you can see that to engage in a mass spay neuter programme on an island the size of Samoa would take some months and considerable investment.
The police say the dog control programme is a long-term initiative that aims to provide a humane solution to what has been a difficult issue for many years. The registration of dogs will begin in late April.
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