Typical Scenes of Our Daily Work
Dog sterilization campaign launched by Faith for Animals (FFA) was actively in progress in Taipei City, New Taipei City and Keelung City. The campaign aimed to achieve a sterilization rate of 80% roaming dogs in the above-mentioned regions. Besides publicly accepted reports of roaming female stray dogs, providing free capture, sterilization and transportation, our biggest achievement in 2017 was to hold regular "door-to-door outreach" activities!
In the following, the 2017 working results from the FFA were presented after 2 years of preparation and hardworking.
In total, 1964 stray animals were sterilized, preventing at least 30,000 stray animals from being born on the streets!
In 2017, the campaign of FFA has accomplished sterilizing of 1,912 dogs and 52 cats, rescuing 35 stray animals, and dealing with 5 troubled dogs. The figures above showed that FFA has stopped nearly 30,000 stray animals, roughly from 4,000 dens, being born on the streets. The estimation was based on the hypothesis that a female animal can give births two times a year and to six to eight births each time.
(Note: In 2017, among the 1,912 dogs, there were 1,858 female dogs and 54 male dogs. In 2016, there were 953 sterilized female dogs. The sterilization growth rate was 195%.)
2017 Monthly Results
In 2017, the FFA had sterilized 1,912 roaming dogs.
The picture below showed the monthly dog catching numbers in 2017. It showed that the association has been making progress.
Follow-ups on 1,611 female dogs after their sterilization surgery
FFA cared about every animal that we handled, so we followed up on the state of the animals after surgeries. In 2017, we sterilized 1,858 female dogs and followed up on 1,611 (sampling ratio: 86.7%) of them. Out of the 1,611 female dogs, 1,565 dogs (97.1%) lived healthily in the original place for more than 14 days after surgery, and 46 (2.9%) were not seen within 14 days after surgery.
Out of the 46 dogs that were not seen again, 18 (1.2%) were randomly caught on the street, or experienced events that were not related to surgery after the surgery, such as car accidents, removal by residents, etc. and therefore were hard to track.
Out of the remaining 28 (1.7%) dogs that disappeared within 14 days after surgery, 13 (0.8%) were seen regularly before their captures but they were missing after the surgery, and the reason of their missing were undetermined. It could be due to their changing of routes, due to their moving to new place, due to surgical complications or other reasons. In addition, although considerable attention has been paid to the isolation procedure, there were still 7 dogs (0.4%) suspected to be cross-infected with enteritis by stray dogs from other regions during the capture and sterilization process, resulting in death after the surgery. Finally, the death of 8 dogs (0.5%) could be resulted from surgical complications.
The number of days of indwelling care after sterilization for FFA was usually 1 to 3 days. The most important consideration for this decision was "diseases prevention". There were a large number of animals coming in and out of the station, and there was a risk of infectious diseases. Once the number of days of indwelling was lengthened, the number and time of animals exposed to the individual would increase, and the risk of infection would increase. Once the disease occurred, it often affected dozens of innocent animals, and therefore we tried to reduce the number of indwelling days.
Note: Postoperative deaths due to surgical complications normally occur within 14 days after surgery.
The only administrative district in Taiwan which fully conducted the dog sterilization project.
From August 2016 to October 2016, the Faith for Animals conducted dog population survey in Keelung. They divided Keelung into 25 regions. Based on the methodology of “sampling survey”, they sampled 8 of these regions to conduct the survey. It took 8 people for two months to perform the survey according to the planned routes. They estimated 2,457 roaming dogs under 95% confidence level, which is around 1700-3100 roaming dogs.
From July 2017 to October 2017, we conducted the door-to-door outreach in the whole Keelung city. In addition to the downtown area with high building density, we also had door-to-door visit on all streets. Furthermore, including the self-reports on the internet, the survey conducted by volunteers, and the information collected from the animal disease control center, we have an overall understanding of the roaming dogs in Keelung. We discovered 1,618 owned roaming dogs (including both outdoor kenneling and tethering) in 740 homes and 965 unowned dogs in 174 groups. In total, there are 2,583 dogs in Keelung.
If we plotted the places of the residence of these dogs on the map, we can find that these points densely covered all administrative districts. This shows that our outreach covers every corner of Keelung. We have identified most dogs in Keelung. This figure is the “answer” to the current status of dogs in Keelung. The number of dogs estimated in 2016 was 2,457, which is very close to the current number, 2,583 dogs.
With the joint efforts of the local volunteers, the animal disease control center in Keelung, and the Faith for Animals, the sterilization ratio of the female roaming dogs reached 85.99% by the end of 2017. The effect of the sterilization project reflects on the number of incoming dogs at the animal disease control center in Keelung. The following figure shows that, from 2015 to 2017, the number of dogs, especially young dogs, that were caught and sent to the Pet Bank (i.e. the Keelung animal shelter) reduced year over year.
Faith for Animals started collaboration with the Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office in Keelung since 2016. After Director Chen took office, he has taken several effective management policies including not issuing new Pet Breeding license, massively sterilizing roaming animals in Keelung, and implementing accurate trap. When the Faith for Animals met owners who were not willing to cooperate during the door-to-door outreach, the Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office also actively sent their officers to persuade the pet owners with the Faith for Animals so that every case had a good ending. Under the public-private partnership, each party made their best efforts in their own sector to resolve problems and effectively push the progress of the sterilization project forward. Even though the size of Keelung city is small, it is the first city in Taiwan which reaches high percentage of female dog sterilization through intensive public-private partnership. We hope the practice in Keelung can impact other cities to deal with the issue of stray animals more completely and thoroughly.
“Public-private partnership is the key to implement policy”
The first issue to carry out a task in the power plant was that no external people can get in and out the plant. We communicated several times but still cannot get in because the manager don’t want us to return the dogs back. Therefore, we cannot do anything but contact the Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office for help. The director quickly issued an official document to the power plant. This document opened the tightly locked door so we can get in to set up.
If there is no dog feeder who can work with us, our own frontline people would go to the target area to feed the dogs at the fixed times. This makes the dogs to be sterilised less wary of us and we can also track the dogs better. After getting the permission, our members go to the power plant everyday and know all the guards there… Because of the perfect setup, we quickly sterilised all female dogs in that area!
In addition to not being able to touch their own dogs, many owners of owned roaming dogs don’t know the number of male and female dogs they have. We found three unsterilised female dogs and a male dog at the other side of the grass. They are tethered at the place without clean water and shelter for a long time. Afterwards, we also found five newly born puppies under the wooden board of the kennel where we saw the breast-swelling female dog. These are clear evidence of the unsterilised dogs and breeding without permission. Therefore, the Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office actively intervene this case. Faith for Animals can then successfully take all female dogs to sterilization and close the case.
The animal welfare policy is hard to reach the rural areas because they have scarce resources and the incomplete concepts of owning dogs compared to the urban areas. We need to understand each case and help the owners to carry out their responsibilities to achieve win-win situations.
Investigation into number of stray dogs in New Taipei City
The purpose of “Dog population field study” is to understand the population of roaming dogs in the region, to estimate how much and how fast resources should be put into the job. The investigation will also provide basis for the assessment of the result. For the above reasons, Faith for Animals especially stress on this job.
Second half of 2017, Faith for Animals conducted a field study on roaming dog populations with methods basically the same as the one used in 2016 for dog county in Keelung. However, due to the enormous area of New Taipei City, the scoop of dog population field research is much large than the one in Keelung. This time, we invited volunteers who are familiar with GIS operations to help us divide the city into different areas and randomly pick the areas with computer. We divided the New Taipei City into 441 areas, randomly selected 32 areas for investigation and employed 42 volunteers for the survey. We accomplished the investigation in 30 area from mid October to the end of December 2017. For the remaining 2 areas: Pinglin District shishi li was done by the end of January 2018 and SanZhi District Yuanshan li was done by the beginning of March.
Note1: Faith for Animal conducting both of the dog counting plan according to World Animal Protection (WAP)’s publication “Surveying roaming dog populations: guidelines on methodology”Pg. 6-13 on how area sampling and differentiative catch and release.
Note2: GIS, geographic information system
In the 32 areas that were investigated, the number of areas with a dog population of over 200 is 4 which are the following: Shulin district Dongyuan li (est. 322), Yingge District Erjia li (est. 255), Taishan District Yiran li (est. 226), Wugu district Guanyin li (est. 206). District with the least number of dogs is Xindian District Huacheng li with only 2 recorded in the surveyed area. We got an approximate number of “roaming dogs, tethered or kenneled dogs and dogs kept in patios” to be 37886 ±11897 with 95% confidence level. The spay rate of female dogs are estimated to be 59.6%. From this data, we can further calculate how many more female dogs that we will need to sterilization to achieve a sterilization rate of 80% and how much effort and resources is needed to achieve the great plan of Taipei City, New Taipei City and Keelung by the end of 2019.
The champion of dog population field study! A Report from researcher in Shulin district Dongyuan Li (est. 322 dogs)
I participated in a secret project at night by the end of 2017 and got a few sets of mysterious numbers as “79+27” and “103+38”. The numbers are not name tags. They are the number of roaming dogs and kenneled and tethered dogs spotted within an area with both factories and farmlands in New Taipei City Shulin District. The area stretched around 1.5 km in radius and the route was along a 18 km of survey route. The research was conducted twice for 2.5 hours each time. The number does not include the dog populations that are barking in the factory nor the ones that were running too fast to be seen. Yes, for the first night, it was raining and we got a number of 106 and the next time with a little clearer sky, we counted 141. Within this short distance and time, we were surprised to find this many dogs!
Although we took part in animal welfare promotion for quite a while already, we were still astonished when we first arrived for the Dongyuan li dog population survey. Every alley and factory area that we rode our bikes into, 7 to 8 dogs which were originally lying in the middle of the street would either run away in fear or chase after the bike barking. While taking care to avoid the fierce barking dogs on the street, the researchers still had to stretch their neck and find and count dogs, such as the kenneled dogs and tethered dogs. When we were done with alley and rode back to the main streets, the dogs that hid in fear would chase and bark behind us. We would had to start again with “123… 6… 9… oh wait! 12!” the dog population survey was basically done in the state of counting and escaping. We have never imagined that we would be come the champion of dog population survey.
The dog population survey in New Taipei City was divided into 32 routes, scattered in 29 districts. For every route, we have 2 researchers repeatedly count 6 times. In order to accomplish the missions, the researchers had to overcome obstacles and rode their motorcycles through the urban areas, suburban areas, mountainous areas and cemeteries, etc. We usually only knew about the landscape only after we arrived at the area. We may sometimes need to ride onto the bike lanes (6 times), or try very hard to ride up the slopes with a 45o elevation (6 times). Sometimes, there are dogs all over the land (6 times) or arrive at a no man’s land (6 times). The direction of the sterilization plan was gradually formed in these big and small advantures. Our understanding of the area slowly transformed from a 2-D image of maps and lines to the 3-D images of the landscape.
What kind of dogs should be included in a all rounded dog sterilization plan?
Dogs that are living within the human society has a spectrum of life. From domestic dogs that stay inside for the whole day to unowned dogs that are afraid of human, there are a wide variety of life styles for the dogs. As such, when we execute a strong sterilization plan, what kind of dogs should be absolutely included in the plan?
For the principle of “preventing increase of roaming animals”, Faith for Animal initially gave the simple answer of “roaming dogs”, which are the following three categories, “abandoned/lost dogs, owned roaming dogs and feral dogs”. However, after taking care of a good number of cases, we found out that the following categories are loopholes that need urgent attention: tethered dogs that stays outside, kenneled dogs that are occasionally released outside and unchipped female dogs that are randomly adopted from public shelters with unknown sterilization status. Therefore, we revisited our standard and set new targets: “female dogs having the possibility of living outside, chance to freely roam around, fertile with the next generation possibility gifted, abandoned or grown into the local roaming dogs”. In short, female dogs that has the possibility of bearing more roaming dogs are all included in the regime of our roaming dog reducing plan, irrespective of whether they are chipped, owned or how long they have been roaming around.
From 2017 October to 2018 January, Faith for Animal finished a door-to-door outreach in Sanhsia District of New Taipei City and found 1896 owned roaming dogs, including tethered and kenneled ones and 593 unowned dogs. This is how the dog populations are composed of in different districts in New Taipei City. After that, we sterilized 121 owned roaming, tethered and kenneled female dogs. Most of these dogs have given birth and most of the owners said that most of the cubs were “gifted”. It was hard to follow up where the cubs actually went. This random behavior of reproduction and gifting is the main cause of the problem of roaming animals in Taiwan.
The most important target of “Sterilization plan” is not the roaming animals but whichever animals will produce more roaming animals. A lot of sterilization plans and related surveys that are led by public departments have the targets very much limited to “roaming dogs” or even explicitly exclude “owned roaming dogs”, not to even mention “tethered or kenneled dogs”. If we have the wrong target, we will never get to the core of the problem. If we only exert effort in only partial areas, the effort and resources cannot be utilized to their fullest extend. We want to call for quality but not just quantity while the public departments are executing their sterilization plan.
*Note: Due to the disapproval of feral dog TNR from Yangmingshan National Park Services, the “Taipei City” referred here needs to exclude its administrated area. Currently only a few individual volunteers within Yangmingshan NP (Beitou / Shilin Dist.) are doing TNR work. The overall TNR rate is extremely low
Status Quo and Recent Change
In the last 10 years, many dog feeders started to search for ways to do TNR for their roaming dogs. Taipei city is a region with high population density and abundant resources. Thus, the TNR rate of roaming female dogs had already been much higher than nearby areas even before Zero Kill was taken place. After 2016, we kept our TNR focus to several districts. The whole Taipei City is close to complete on the Sterilization Project. There are 3 categories based on the progress -
The figure below is the recent statistics from the Taipei Dept. of Animal Welfare. We can see the stray dog issue has been significantly improved.
2014: Total 2136 dogs were caught, including 847 juveniles
2017: total 1157 dogs, including 276 juveniles.
It can be seen that Taipei City caught less dogs especially the juvenile population.
2015: Total 4925 report/complaint about stray dogs.
2017: Total 2573 report/complaints. Almost improved by 50%.
Stray Dog Issue can be Improved by High Intensity Sterilization
From the figure below: This is the 2014-2015 statistic information from Dept. of Animal Welfare. It indicates that Beitou, Shilin, Neihu, and Wenshan are the most catastrophic area with regard to dog-catching activities, total >400 dogs in two years – a big gap comparing to the second tier districts (Xinyi, Nangang, Wanhua, Zhongshan).
From the juvenile dog population: Beitou, Shilin, Neihu, and Wenshan all seriously suffered from the dog reproduction. More than 40% caught ones were juveniles (i.e. every 10 dogs there were 4 younger than half-year old). Thus, if a high-intensity sterilization took place there, at least 40% of the population would have dropped.
FFA started to conduct High-intensity Sterlization Project in Taipei City since 2016, and then –
2017 Massive Reduction of Total Caught.
The figure below shows the 2014-2017 changes of total dog numbers in each district. Beitou, Shilin, Wenshan, Neihu has a significant reduction. This indicates that the positive results from the whole Taipei City in recent years was mainly due to the Sterilzation Project in targeted, catastrophic areas of dog breeding.
2017 The total reports were massively reduced.
The figure below shows the change of report/complaint numbers. We can see that in Shilin, Neihu, Wenshan the decrease rate was the highest – these areas are the Dog Sterilization Project >80% completion areas. For Beitou Dist, since there are still areas pending completion, the final effect is not reflected fully yet.
Note: Although Zero Kill policy may have impact on the total caught populations, the reporting number shall not be affected.