Roaming dogs are considered a problem for a variety of reasons, including aggression towards humans, disease transmission, environmental contamination, and compromised animal welfare. The misconception that culling dogs will eliminate these issues and that “the problem is that there are too many dogs” remains widespread. To combat this misconception, World Animal Protection advocates for the integration of humane dog population management (DPM) into governmental programmes around the world, as an integral part in reducing conflicts between dogs and the communities they live in and achieving a harmonious coexistence between them. Our experience has taught us that no programme is the same, that although there are guidelines in DPM, social, cultural and geographical realities must be taken into consideration when creating tailor-made programmes that deal with the root causes of “dog problems” in different places. Our key learnings working for the organization over the past 7 years in Brazil, Costa Rica, China, Kenya, Romania, Serbia, Zanzibar and Asia Pacific have been:
- Most street dogs are owned;
- Knowledge of the dog population numbers and behaviour is essential;
- A multi-stakeholder committee is vital in any dog population management programme;
- There is no singular recipe. What may work for one community may not work for another. One needs to be mindful of culture, geography, and reality;
- Non-formal, community education programmes are the basis for transformation;
- When resources are limited, sterilization should be targeted to specific groups of animals;
- Investing in the monitoring and evaluation of the programme is necessary, to track progress and propose adjustments.