Action needed on Samoan dogs

Sep 03, 2013
Vet student Narae Hong in Samoa.

Massey University researchers say more must be done to humanely manage the canine population in Samoa.

Dr Els Acke and Dr Kate Hill in collaboration with Mark Farnworth, a Massey PhD student who is a lecturer at Unitec, have carried out a number of research projects in Samoa.

Massey University students have also visited Samoa regularly and in conjunction with the Animal Protection Society of Samoa, have neutered over 900 dogs.

Dr Hill, of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, says work is needed to help limit the spread of disease, improve the welfare of dogs and protect locals and tourists from bites. "Strategies must include education and improved veterinary provision if dogs and people are to benefit in the long-term."

She says dogs in Samoa live a different life than that of New Zealand dogs. "They are never kept on a leash, and even though most dogs technically are owned by someone they are free to roam the streets, so they often get hit by cars."

But Mr Farnworth says while it may seem these dogs are ownerless and not cared about, the reality is different. "My research indicates that these dogs are still important to the Samoan people and described by many as 'one of the family'," he says. "A recent survey also shows tourists are generally sympathetic to the plight of these dogs."

A study conducted of tourists in Samoa, recently submitted for publication, found 64 per cent of tourists had had a negative interaction with a dog while there. More than 80 per cent of said there needed to be better management of the dog population and nearly all respondents felt humane management was the most important tool to achieve that end.

Dr Hill says one of the major issues is disease, as a number of easily prevented diseases and parasites are rife in the Samoan dog population.

"The high population of dogs, and their close contact with people, make them a possible threat to public health since they may pose as reservoirs for agents causing human disease," she says. "A masters project conducted by Ros Carslake, tested 242 dogs during 2010-11 for a number of diseases and found that more than 90 per cent had hookworm. Almost half had another parasite, Dirofilaria immitis (heart worm), while other diseases were also common."

The research findings show a need for more dialogue around the provision of veterinary services and humane population management for dogs in Samoa, the group says. "It is apparent a better management programme will improve the experience of local Samoans, visitors to Samoa and Samoan alike."

Explore further: A molecular compass for bird navigation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Well-designed dog parks offer great benefit

Jul 01, 2013

Fenced specialty dog parks are offering great social and wellbeing benefits for both dogs and their owners - but they need to be well-designed for maximum gain, says a University of Adelaide veterinarian.

See spot see

Mar 02, 2013

(HealthDay)—It's a dog-see-dog world. With no sniffing involved, dogs can recognize the faces of other dogs among the faces of humans and other animal species, according to a new study.

Researchers prove dogs are able to differentiate colors

Jul 25, 2013

A team of researchers in Russia has conducted a series of experiments that prove that dogs are able to distinguish between different colors. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, ...

Recommended for you

A molecular compass for bird navigation

15 minutes ago

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

100,000 bird samples online

2 hours ago

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in Oslo has a bird collection of international size. It is now available online.

New genetic technologies offer hope for white rhino

3 hours ago

With support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the ...

Cats put sight over smell in finding food

19 hours ago

Cats may prefer to use their eyes rather than follow their nose when it comes to finding the location of food, according to new research by leading animal behaviourists.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.