Dr. Lisa Silk
How many people are aware that the Mayors’ Council of Guam initiated a stray animal roundup? This has been very controversial, and I’m not thrilled about having to do it, but I’ve been here 14 years and see things getting worse.
And it isn’t just the dogs. It’s the cats, chickens, and the pigs — all of which harbor diseases that can be fatal to humans.
I see packs of pigs that spread leptospirosis and packs of dogs, half of which are probably owned pets allowed to run loose. Some of these dogs are aggressive, attacking, or chasing people on the street.
Chaining them up is abusive and makes them more aggressive. Dogs are pack animals, and they need to be played with and allowed to interact with family members. Dogs also need room to run, either within a fence or in a home.
Tying them to a tree and leaving them is horrific for a pack animal who needs to interact with its “pack,” which explains why they run together on the streets. But if you spay and neuter the animals, you become their pack.
I’ve heard statements that this roundup is a waste of time, and it will be if we aren’t all working toward the same goal. The mayors can’t fix this by themselves, and Guam has good animal laws that aren’t enforced.
The Department of Agriculture requires pet registrations and expects owners to leash their animals or keep them in their yards. The dogs should not run free and must be vaccinated for rabies, according to the law.
Here’s how you can help
- Spay and neuter pets, which decreases packs of dogs from fighting and running in the neighborhoods.
- Microchip family pets to prove ownership and follow leash laws, which dictate that your dogs can’t be loose on the streets, must be on a leash, or fenced within a yard and home.
- Register your pets at the Department of Agriculture, and volunteer to help catch some strays.
From the government, I expect them to allocate more money to animal control officers. Enforce the laws with fines or remove pets from abusive situations. They need more manpower, equipment, and shelter.
Government officials, start a “breeding” law. People who breed animals should have an extra charge on registration, and they should stop client artificial insemination. This is a veterinary service and illegal in people’s backyards. I have treated three dogs that almost died from “home insemination.” Breeding needs to have some control.
We have so many stray animals that I’m getting purebred dogs brought in half-dead from the streets.
And courts, start prosecuting animal abuse cases. If you don’t enforce the laws, the police and animal control won’t either.
Even travel matters, too. Airlines, especially United, need to start transporting animals. It’s becoming near impossible for families to get their pets off the island.
For families interested in taking their pets once they leave the island, obtain intake and outtake forms that prove you have made arrangements. Avoid leaving your pets on the streets when you leave Guam.
The stray dog situation will only get worse, and we haven’t even begun to address the pigs and chickens. If we don’t do something now, it may become uncontrollable.
Dr. Lisa Silk owns Isla Veterinary Clinic in Asan. You can contact reach her at 477-7879 or email@example.com.