Pacific News Minute: Overpopulation of stray dogs across Fiji caused by the pandemic
The population of stray dogs in one Pacific country has increased by the thousands within the last few years — and it’s a direct result of the pandemic.
This dog ‘baby boom’ began when Fiji closed its borders in early 2020, which stopped the flow of international volunteer veterinarians who previously provided neutering services.
Shaneel Narayan, the manager of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in Suva, estimates that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 dogs on the loose in the capital city of Fiji.
Some are stray, while others freely walk the streets while still owned by people.
Narayan told The Guardian that in a typical year, the shelter would neuter about 3,000 animals. But because of COVID-19, the programs were stopped due to government restrictions.
The dogs themselves are largely left to scavenge for scraps and raise litters outside of the city.
Even as neutering services have resumed, the SPCA and other animal shelters are struggling to cope with the number of animals.
Narayan says the shelter is completely overwhelmed.
For animal experts, the solution to the dog population explosion is a trap, neuter and release program.
But Narayan says it won’t happen overnight. He says although it has worked in certain parts of Sri Lanka and the Philippines, it would take at least eight to 20 years to accomplish.