Creation of PAWS
To combat the grave issues experienced by stray dogs, we established PAWS in 2019. The project consists of four programmes, each of which targets a major problem related to the stray dog population. Together, they will greatly improve the situation of both the dogs themselves and the local population.
How our Programme works
The PAWS mobile clinic is the vital link between rural village dogs and access to healthcare.
The villages around Cusco have high concentrations of dogs and no access to veterinary care. Between 80% and 90% of the village stray dogs will have owners that allow the dogs to roam free. The remaining dogs would not be claimed by an owner but are likely to be fed at restaurants or markets in the village. Due to the poverty associated with rural villages and the distances to reach veterinary clinics, these dogs would never normally receive any healthcare.
The Step by Step Dog Care Plan
- Work with the local village leaders to organise an initial health campaign.
- Spend time in the village to microchip the dogs and record numbers and details.
- Work with the community to create ownership of dogs without owners.
- Provide healthcare to the dogs such as vaccinations & deworming.
- Identify the dogs that can be sterilised.
- Return to the village on a pre-selected date with our experienced veterinary surgeons to sterilise the selected dogs.
- Monitor the dogs over the next few days to ensure they are recovering correctly.
- Return to the village every three months.
The programme is always well received as the large number of dogs in the villages is a big problem for the community. We can often convince families in the village to adopt dogs that are not owned if PAWS commits to take on the responsibility of providing the veterinary care and the dogs are sterilised.
As one of the major problems is locals not understanding the importance of animal welfare, especially as maltreatment of strays isn’t criminalised, one of our programmes is the teaching of animal rights to local schools and communities. Ensuring the local population understand the importance of animal welfare and how to handle the stray population of strays in a humane way will speed up the already changing attitudes towards animals and is vital in providing a happier and healthier future for stray dogs.
Sterilisation – Capture, Neuter, Release (CNR)
Overpopulation of dogs will never be solved unless they stop breeding. So, to achieve this, we have started a programme called CNR (Capture, Neuter, Release). Our mobile veterinary clinic visits villages where there is a high concentration of stray dogs. We carry out health checks which allows us to identify the dogs that can be sterilised. We return to neuter or spay them the selected dogs. In an ideal world we would be able to provide shelter to all the abandoned dogs, but it is simply not feasible. Instead, this programme will at least provide a happier future for dogs, as well as the local population by greatly reducing the number of strays.
Our mobile clinic is used to vaccinate the strays we in rural villages. These dogs are currently completely vulnerable to diseases such as distemper, which can cause horrific, permanent nerve damage as well as death. Our clinic vaccinates the dogs against a host of diseases, protecting them at least from the possibility of suffering horribly from a preventable illness, improving their standard of living at least a little. Vaccinating the dogs will also protect the human population from catching some diseases from the strays.
Our final programme works to find rehabilitated strays a permanent, loving home. While shelters provide much needed care for the dogs, providing them with food and medical treatment, they cannot give the dogs the individual attention they deserve. By finding capable and affectionate families for these dogs, not only will they have better lives, but it also frees space in the shelters for other strays to be rescued and rehabilitated until they too are ready for adoption.
Obviously these programmes will not change the situation for strays overnight, but with time they will steadily improve the lives of stray dogs in Cusco.