In January and February 2014 a few of our team members have worked on a neutering campaign in Sal, the smallest island of Cape Verde. Apart from sand, rocks and sea there is not much to find, everything has to be imported by boat or plane. The project was organized and funded by a German charity, Tieraerztepool, whose vets have now sterilised over 3200 animals during eight sterilisation campaigns.
Approximately 5000 dogs live on the island, a large percentage is owned and free roaming but there are also true strays living on the beaches and streets of the towns of Santa Maria, Espargos and Palmeira. Nearly all of the dogs we met are friendly and easy to handle.
Sadly, not everybody likes the dogs tho and we have heard stories of dogs and cats being poisened regularly because they are roaming the streets, barking at night, chasing each others and cars, lying on the tourist beaches and apparently being aggressive. Recently we have also heard of people who are calling for a shelter to confine the street dogs.
That’s why during every campaign we are trying not only to perform as many surgeries as possible but also to educate people about the importance of neuterings. We are not only creating a smaller and more healthy, stable dog population but we are also explaining that killings (or taking them of the streets and locking them in a shelter) of dogs is not a solution. It is actually counterproductive as new, non neutered dogs will take their place and produce more dogs. Only one healthy intact female and her offspring can produce over 60 000 dogs within only 6 years. No amount of killing will ever reduce the amount of dogs. Only neuterings will!
Walking along the beaches of Santa Maria everybody can now easily see the difference between the non neutered skinny, lactating or pregnant bitches in comparison to the rotund and happy dogs, lying relaxed in the shade. These neutered dogs won’t be chased by male dogs anymore when they are in heat, produce two litters year after year or be at risk from uterine infections, mammary tumours or transmissible venereal tumours (TVT), which are transmitted during mating.
Before the neutering campaigns take place the local NGO is informing the population of Sal well in advance and we are usually finding every day a queue of people with their dogs, waiting for us to start! They are not only bringing their dogs and cats for sterilisations but also for other treatments as this is the only time their pets have the chance of being seen by a vet. We are treating lots of bite wounds, remove tumours and badly injured eyes, extract rotten teeth and treat uncountable patients with mange and other parasitic diseases. Depending on funding we are also treating TVTs, of which we find lots of cases in Sal. These tumours are easily treated with chemotherapy (one injection every week for 4 weeks) but the drug vincristine is very expensive and we can only afford to take a few bottles with us. Due to generous donations to the NGO ‘Save cats and dogs of Cape Verde’ this time we were able to bring enough Vincristine with us to successfully treat around 10 dogs with TVTs. The improvement we saw after the first 2 injections were impressive!
These projects will continue and the Tieraerztepool will definitely come back for more neutering campaigns in the future.