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.