Mauritian Agro-Industry Minister Mahen Seeruttun told Parliament that the dog population in Mauritius is around 300,000 out of which at least 80,000 are considered to be strays (without an owner or a defined abode).
Replying to a parliamentary question, the Minister indicated that the Mauritius Society for Animal Welfare (MSAW) is responsible for the control of stray dogs and operates in strict compliance with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2013 and the rules set out by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Mr Seeruttun said the main measure adopted over the years for the control of stray dogs was to catch and euthanize them.
“Stray dogs are sources of serious problems in the society and MSAW is constantly pressurized from different quarters, namely, hotels, schools, hospitals, market places, district councils and municipalities, to catch stray dogs,” he underlined.
However, the Minister added, the MSAW is in disarray and had to restrict its activities following growing pressure from NGOs for the MSAW not to resort to the “catch and euthanize” method.
Thus, from this year, MSAW has adopted a three-pronged approach to control stray dogs in Mauritius, namely: mass sterilization of dogs; catching and euthanasia of stray dogs in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2013; and registration of dogs and sensitization of owners on “responsible pet ownership”.
“Some 2,065 dogs have been sterilized since September 2015, a low figure as the target is to sterilize at least 15% of the dog population,” Mr Seeruttun indicated.
With regard to the “catch and euthanize” method, some 2,258 dogs have been caught since January 2016 and 2,023 have been euthanized.
The Minister added that the staff of MSAW operate in very difficult conditions and are at times de-motivated “as they are often harassed and even attacked by members of the public in the course of their duty.”