A Malaysian non-governmental organisation (NGO) has given us all a few things to consider before deciding to feed stray dogs we may find in our neighbourhoods
Having fed and rescued abandoned dogs over the past 13 years, canine welfare initiative Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) has urged others to be more responsible when feeding strays they find on the streets.
In a Facebook post earlier this month, they reminded people of the issues that may surface when we think we may be lending a helping hand.
The organisation has noticed more people feeding stray dogs during the Movement Control Order (MCO)
While that may sound like a good thing, MDDB also pointed out that:
– The feeding has led to an uncontrollable boom in the street dog population.
– There has been a higher incidence of stray puppies becoming roadkill, distressing people nearby.
– Casual feeders do not clean up after feeding, leaving food leftovers on the streets that go rotten and attract rodents.
– Casual feeders also often feed stray dogs too late into the night, causing a ruckus and waking up neighbours already in bed.
MDDB said these complaints by residential areas has led to local councils taking action by catching and culling more stray dogs.
The NGO said new feeders should know that street dogs have different needs from pet dogs, who mostly require treats and cuddles
Street dogs have two more basic priorities — food and mating.
"When you feed stray dogs without neutering, these dogs no longer need to look for food and hence have the time and energy to concentrate on copulation, leading to the population boom at feeding sites," MDDB explained.
They reminded people that feeding dogs should not only be about filling their bellies, but should also be about preventing a larger number of strays.
Feeding must always be done with the intent to catch and spay
MDDB said it is best to feed stray dogs only if you can take ownership and full responsibility of the dogs you feed.
Here are the other 'Dos and Don'ts' they shared about feeding strays:
– Do not feed too many at once. Maintain small colonies that you can manage and control easily.
– Do feed the dogs after sunset, but not too late at night. This is to avoid attracting attention to yourself and the dogs.
– Do not overfeed the dogs and remain there until all the food has finished. This is to establish some form of understanding between you and the dogs.
– Do clean up after feeding. Remove all newspapers, containers, and whatever else to feed the dogs.
– Most importantly, do be consistent. Do not do random feedings. It is best to establish a schedule and a permanent area far away from houses or eateries to avoid disturbed routines for both animals and humans.
Lastly, hang around while the dogs are eating so that they recognise and become comfortable with you.
This would make it easier to bring them for neutering.
MDDB suggests hiring dog catchers to help you or catching the dogs yourself with a leash. Make sure you have a carrier or cage in your vehicle while driving them to a clinic.
According to the post, there are veterinary clinics that provide spaying or neutering services for as low as RM150, while some NGOs also offer subsidised neutering of street dogs.
They also remind individuals to get the vets to notch a dog's ears to indicate that they have been neutered before sending them back on the streets.
This 'Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage' system is what the initiative stands for.
"Feeders and rescuers must not humanise animals and people in general must not romanticise street animal feeding and rescuing," reminded the non-profit organisation.
They said a responsibility lies on all feeders to not only ensure careful and calculated feeding to safeguard the locations and welfare of stray dogs, but also to protect them from the unfair death sentence that is still practised in the country when the population goes out of control.