Granted those numbers are completely made up, but biology teaches us that there are ecological niches and a general number of a certain species can be supported by it. So the best way to control the strays is not to try to trap and kill all of them. You will never get to all of them, and they will reproduce just as fast as they can be caught and killed. This has been proven time and again in communities all over the world. The community recognizes that they have a lot of strays/ferals, and maybe one of these animals hurt a person so the government is now paying attention. They decide the best course of action is to trap all these animals and kill them, yet months or even years later the number of animals has not changed.
The best way to handle a stray and/or feral population is to trap, neuter (and vaccinate) and release the animals (TNR). Once released, they are unable to reproduce, are vaccinated with a three year rabies shot so rabies will not be an issue, and hold the ecological niche population in place. Most communities that have implemented this way of handling their stray and feral populations have also found that some of these animals are adoptable (not completely wild). These animals are then fixed, vaccinated and adopted out to a loving home. The animals that are trapped that prove to be wild are therefore simply returned to their habitat once they have recovered from their vet visit.
Please contact your local shelter/animal control facility and ask them what their procedure is for feral cats/dogs. Strongly encourage them to adopt the Trap/Neuter/Release program for the ferals that cannot be domesticated. I can provide you with specific evidence of how this works better than trapping and killing if you feel you need it to make your case. For more information about TNR and other nokill solutions, check out Nathan Winograd’s book, Redemption. Thanks!
As always, the first step is to find a treat your dog is really willing to work for! Once this treat has been identified, break them up into small pieces (no bigger than your pinky fingernail).
Essentially when you are teaching your dog a command, you will first teach them the result you are looking for (in this case, down) and once that is learned you are putting a verbal command to it. So to teach the result of laying down, first ask your dog to sit. Then, take a small treat in your hand and put it close to your dog’s nose and slowly move it to the ground towards your dog’s front feet. This motion of moving a treat from your dog’s nose to the floor will almost always result in your dog laying down so he can get to the treat. Once your dog does lay down, give him the treat immediately and praise him! Dogs only have an association period of about 1.5 seconds, so you need to get that treat to him in 1.5 seconds for him to understand that laying on the ground=treat.
Do this about a dozen times or so to make sure your dog is making the connection. Once your dog seems to be predicting what you want when you put the treat out by his nose, add the word “down” or “lay down” (pick one command and stick with it!) into the mix. So every time your dog puts his belly on the ground, say “lay down” and give the treat. Do this a few more dozen times and your dog should have it! Try just holding the treat in your hand, close to your chest, and say “lay down.” If he lays, praise him and give him that treat as soon as you can.
Do not be discouraged if your dog takes a while to catch on, some dogs are better at learning new things than others. Just keep doing each step over and over until your dog gets the hang of it before you move on to the next step. Some dogs figure this out in minutes (like my cavalier) while others take a bit longer (just like my chihuahua mix and border collie mix-they took a few days). My border collie actually hates the command and action of laying down. I have found in my experience that certain breeds are not fans of laying down or rolling over. So definitely be patient and make sure to reward the little victories!
Reminder: dogs get frustrated just like we do, so don’t train with your dog for more than 15 minutes at a time. That way, he can retain everything you are trying to teach him and not get so frustrated that he shuts down and you have set backs.
Most cities have a law in place that limits the number of animals a household can have. Mine, for example, only allows two dogs maximum. (Yes, now you know, I am a law-violator!) The idea behind instituting a pet limit law is to avoid hoarding, animal cruelty and neglect, noise violations, and sanitation issues. While these concerns are valid and I commend the area councils for caring about the welfare of companion animals, the pet limit law does not actually address these concerns.
The issue here is that the people passing these pet limit laws assume that more animals in the house automatically leads to these violations. Not so! Simply having a lot of animals in one’s house does not immediately mean the animals are not well cared for and are a nuisance to the neighbors. There needs to be actual acts of neglect and an inability to provide for the animals in one’s care for there to be any real violations of neglect. Take a foster home for example. Many wonderful individuals volunteer their time, resources and hearts to help local shelters care for their animals. However, what happens if I have two dogs and am fostering a third? The law is forcing me to not help my local shelter and this therefore directly results in more animals being unnecessarily killed because the shelter does not have sufficient room to care for its animals on its own.
The flip side of this law is also an issue as it assumes everyone is capable of caring for up to two dogs at a time. I personally know of several people who do not have the resources or current know-how to care for even just one dog. The pet limit law does not address this type of individual nor does it protect the animals that are under this individual’s care. Rather, it focuses only on one section of pet owners (the multiple pet people) and punishes both the good and bad within that section. If a person has the resources and is perfectly capable of caring for five dogs and is able to do so without the neighbors being overly burdened by it, then why should they not be able to?
So be proactive! Contact your local representatives and ask them to repeal your local pet limit law. Instead, make sure they have a law (or laws) in place addressing hoarding, animal cruelty and neglect, noise violations, and sanitation so that all companion animals, whether an only child or with multiple siblings, are protected. Individuals who are willing and able to care for multiple animals should be able to while people who are unable to even care for one companion animal should be monitored and reported if they attempt to do so.
I will probably write more on this topic at a later date as it is one that lies close to my heart (obviously, I have three dogs and a cat in my house and am hoping to foster one of the freed greyhounds from the Dairyland Greyhound Park). Please comment/ask questions and I will definitely address them either now or in a later post. Thanks for reading!