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Average age of dogs entering the PS - Average age of dogs entering the public shelter each year, during the period of study (2002-2013). 

Average age of dogs entering the PS - Average age of dogs entering the public shelter each year, during the period of study (2002-2013). 

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In Italy, standards for the management of free-roaming dogs (FRDs) are defined by regional norms, generating a high variability of approaches around the country. Despite efforts carried out by the competent authorities, FRDs are still a reality impacting upon animal health and welfare and public costs. A similar scenario can be found in many other...

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... were released on the territory as ‘community dogs’, and 8.9% of the total either died or were euthanized for reasons in compliance with the national law. The remaining 9 dogs (0.1%) escaped from the PS. While a low percentage of dogs were returned to owners or euthanized, with rather constant numbers across the years, a clear increase in the number of animals destined for adoption can be seen with an opposite reduction in the number of dogs released on the territory (Fig. 5). Comparing these two groups (adoptions and territory) using a chi-square test revealed that before 2006 the number of animals destined for adoption was significantly below that expected by chance, while after 2006, it was significantly higher than would be expected by chance ( χ 2 =762.9; p<0.0001). A total of 463 dogs entered the PS of Pescara due to being involved in aggressive attacks or bite events. Of these, 65 (14%) were owned dogs, whilst the remaining 398 were strays. The association between aggressive events and ownership was found to be significant ( χ 2 =15.3; p<0.0001). In particular, the observed frequencies of aggressive owned dogs were significantly higher than the expected frequencies for this group. Looking at breed types, 59.8% were mongrels (not ascribed to any specific breed) 7.6% were Abruzzi sheepdog cross-breeds, 5.2% were Abruzzi sheepdog (pure breed), 5.2% German shepherd dog cross breed, 5% Pit Bull type, 3.9 and 3.7% were German shepherd dog and Rottweiler respectively. Other breeds were represented by around 1% or below. After an accurate anamnesis and behavioural consultations most dogs were reintroduced on the territory, given up for adoption or returned to their owner (n=350). The remaining dogs (21%) were declared dangerous and euthanized in accordance with law prescriptions. Sterilisation events were not reported in the record forms of the PS before 2002. During the remaining years, Pescara PS veterinarians performed 4,580 sterilisations, 85.6% on females. Among dogs entering in the PS, 289 were already neutered and among these, only 28 were owned out of a total of 667 (4.2%) owned dogs. The average number of sterilisations per year between 2002 and 2013 was 381.7 (median 382; Q =360.3; Q =407.5). 1 3 Looking only at owned dogs, a highly significant association emerged between sex and neutering status ( χ 2 = 21.7; p<0.0001). A significantly higher proportion of neutered female (85.7%), compared to neutered male dogs (14.3%), entered the shelter. On average, 350 ±29.4 (mean±SD) entire stray females and 17±7.1 (mean±SD) entire owned females dogs entered the PS each year. A significant difference also emerged when comparing the age of sterilised animals entering the PS, these being older than non-sterilised dogs (sterilised: mean= 5.9 y.o.; non- sterilised: mean= 2.0; p<0.0001) A total of 515 FRDs captured from the territory were “community dogs” (under the TNR programme), therefore had an identification code (i.e. microchip). No free-roaming dog that had already been identified entered the PS in 2000 and only two did so in 2001. Between 2002 and 2013 a mean of 42.8±8.3SD already identified dogs per year entered the PS (8.9% of the average yearly entrance rate of unowned FRD entering the shelter), of which 42.5% were injured, ill or involved in attacks or bite events. According to their status, 28.3% dogs were returned to their territory, 19.2% died or were euthanized and 52.6% were adopted or committed to a rescue shelter for adoption. Among owned dogs (n=667), 61.8% had a transponder. The remaining 38.2 % of owned dogs, which did not have a transponder, were not in compliance with the law. A chi-square test highlighted a significant association between the types of FRD (owned or stray) with the presence/absence of an identification code ( χ 2 =1605.8; p<0.0001). In particular, it emerged that observed frequencies of identified owned dogs were significantly higher than expected frequencies. PS veterinarians inoculated 5904 transponders to FRDs during 14 years. Estimating the FRD population size and understanding its source is recognised to be the first step needed to gain a picture of the baseline situation to plan targeted and effective actions, and to understand the amount of resources required to tackle this problem (8, 9, 13). It is reported that a 70% sterilisation rate is necessary to block dog population growth (14). Unfortunately, no reliable estimates of the FRD population in the province of Pescara is available at the moment, but since all dogs reported to the LVHU are captured and sterilised, it can be supposed that almost all FRD on the streets are eventually caught. TNR programmes in place for many years, as in this case study, should lead to a reduction of the reproduction rate and consequently to a progressive aging of the stray population. The present results highlight a high entrance rate of sub-adult animals (around 1 y.o., Fig. 2) and a rejuvenation of the population across the years (Fig. 3). Thus, the FRDs captured on the territory are new dogs, either born in the street or derived from abandoned and unwanted litters. This, together with the constantly high entrance rates at the PS (Fig. 1) are important symptoms of a failure in the dog population management system, which appears not to be targeting the source of new FRDs. It is important to consider the costs that a high capture and sterilisation activity entails for LVHU: sterilisation 70€/dog plus capture, medical and maintenance costs (around 200€/dog). Although the more densely populated areas were those were the higher number of dogs were caught, on average a higher FRD-to-inhabitants ratio was found in mountain areas, being mostly rural or semi-rural (Fig. 4). The distribution of FRDs in the different geographical areas (plain, hill and mountain), however, did not differ statistically. As it also emerged in other dog surveys (15), in rural areas owners leave the dog free to roam, probably due to the higher tolerance by the community. In Abruzzi mountain areas pastoralism is common; farm stockperson often leave their dogs, mainly not sterilised, free to roam. Moreover, herders may abandon herding dogs that are not good for working thus contributing to the free roaming population of shepherd breed dogs (16). This behaviour could explain the higher prevalence of German Shepherds and Abruzzi Sheepdogs, both pure breed and their crosses, entering the PS (Table 1). Awareness and free microchipping campaigns targeting citizens may not reach farmers that rarely walk their working dogs to town. Targeted actions, such as door-to- door campaigns in rural areas and incentivising the sterilisation of non-working animals, would help in enforcing the law on identification and registration. This strategy, applied to the present and similar scenarios, could substantially reduce one of the sources of FRDs. A certain ecological niche attracts animals according to the resource availability. Each niche has a carrying capacity therefore limiting the entrance of new individuals when resources are already taken. Reintroducing neutered dogs on the territory contributes to filling certain niches and is therefore one of the strategies applied to control FRD populations. The LVHU strategy has changed over the years, decreasing the number of dogs released on the territory as community dogs and increasing the number of animals destined for adoption (either direct or through rescue shelters; Fig. 5). Nevertheless, whichever was the primary DPM (dog population management) strategy used (i.e. TNR or sheltering), the average number of dogs entering the PS did not vary accordingly, suggesting once more that targeting only the ‘symptom’ of a problem and not the source has no effect in reducing the population size. Dog bites to people are a serious issue for public safety, involving a high number of citizens every year in many countries all over the world, including Europe (17, 18). A total of 463 dogs entered the PS of Pescara because of involvement in aggressive attacks or bite events during the 14 years analysed here. Although observed frequencies of aggression events by owned dogs were higher than expected by chance alone, unowned animals represented the higher proportion of aggressive dogs entering the shelter. This result is in line with previous work carried out in Belgrade by Vu č ini ć et al. (19) which also found that stray dogs caused a significantly higher number of bites to humans than owned dogs, although another study carried out in Italy show the opposite trend (20). Nevertheless, cases of attacks from dogs whose owner is unknown are known to be over-reported as compared to attack events from owned dogs. This may be due to people being more concerned about strays as carriers of diseases or conversely, because only serious bites are likely to be reported by victims of a family dog (17, 21). Also, previous works have highlighted how the reduction of the number of domestic animals roaming in the community could considerably help in preventing most bite injuries (19, 22). Over one third of the population entering PS included injured, sick or abused animals, abandoned litters or biting animals. This data confirms that free roaming conditions in urban environments entail a range of risks to the dogs, potentially compromising their health and welfare, as well as being a potential threat for public safety as has also been reported elsewhere (3). A rather constant percentage of the caught animals were ‘community dogs’ (i.e. strays with an identification code), being recaptured every year. The re-catching of these animals implies costs as well, and this should be considered when deciding whether to implement TNR as a dog population management action. Dog overpopulation can be a consequence of human behaviours, identified as deficiencies in pet maintenance and pet sterilisation (23, 24). Responsible ownership is a key factor in the control of FRD ...
Context 2
... Pescara municipality). According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT www.istat.it, 2011), the territory of action of this LVHU (1,224 km 2 ) is divided in three areas: coastal/inland plain, hills and mountains. The PS provides temporary housing for animals while they are checked and treated, if necessary, before deciding their destination. Dogs are caught from the streets after reports from police officers, animals’ rights associations or citizens. According to the National Law 281/1991 (10), dogs in Italy have to be identified and registered. Owned dogs found roaming without a microchip are identified (with a transponder) by the shelter veterinarians before returning them, and a fine is applied to the owner following law prescriptions. Stray and abandoned animals are identified and registered, neutered and usually entrusted to rescue shelters for adoption. The regional law of Abruzzi also allows TNR programmes. Dogs under this programme are identified and registered as “community dogs” and are under the responsibility of the mayor of the municipality where the dog is released. These dogs are reintroduced to the territory under specific conditions i.e. the dog is sterilised, harmless and accepted by the community. Biting dogs which are reported for aggression, are kept under clinical (for rabies control) and behavioural observation for 10 days. They are kept either at the owner’s house or if the dog is unknown, at the PS. If the dog is diagnosed as being dangerous, it has to be kept in the shelter or euthanized according to the national framework recommendations, otherwise it can be adopted or returned to its territory. All dogs entering the PS are registered in an electronic database, compiled by the two public veterinarians managing the facility. For this study, we retrieved the data recorded from January 2000 to December 2013. For each dog, information about sex, size, breed, age (estimate), place of capture, electronic identification, neutering/spaying status, general health status, stay time (days) and destination, were logged in. Since the shelter policy slightly changed during the investigated period, some data were not recorded across all years. When this was the case, missing data have been pointed out in the results section. A descriptive screening of the data was carried out to investigate the variation in the variables across time or between groups of dogs entering the PS. Associations between variables were evaluated by applying the Chi-squared test and variations in time were analysed using linear regression models. Spearman correlation test was used to compare the number of caught dogs per municipality and the human population. Kruskal-Wallis test was applied to compare the dog/inhabitant ration in the different type of territory (plain, mountain, and hill). Wilcoxon test was used to compare the age of sterilised versus non-sterilised animals entering the PS. Alpha value was set for = 0.05. All analyses were carried out using R ® version 2.15.3 software package for Windows 7. The total number of dogs included in the study was 7,475 and on average, the number of dogs entering the shelter annually was 530.1. In 54 cases, sex was not reported in the PS registry. Of the remaining 7,421 dogs, a higher proportion of female dogs (71%) entered the PS compared to male dogs (29%) (Fig. 1). The dog population was represented by large (15% > 26 kg), medium (46% 16-25 kg) and small (39% <15 kg) (11 ) size dogs (total n=7,423). Stay time in PS was on average 11 days (median=9 days) with the minimum being 1 day and the maximum being 195 days. After the first clinical check, dogs were either returned to their owner or sent to an adoption centre. Long stays were associated with dogs that needed surgery or special care due to severe injuries or sickness. The majority (77%) of captured dogs were mongrels (i.e. not ascribable to any breed, n=5,643). On average 403±68.3sd (median=413.5) mongrels entered each year in similar proportion. A further 12% (n=883) were cross-breeds with a morphology clearly associated to a breed (mean±sd=62.1±30.1, median=61.5). Finally, 12% (n=865) were pure breed dogs (mean±sd=61.4±13.5, median=61.5) (see Table 1 for breeds details). Age was estimated by the veterinarians on the basis of the animals’ dentition and general status (e.g. reproductive status) (12). The age range of the dogs entering the PS was variable, including puppies of few days old to dogs over 18 years old (mean 2.3; median 1.04; Q =0.7; Q =2.6 years-old). 1 3 It was not possible to retrieve the data about the age of the dogs in the years 2000-2001, so age data refer to the period 2002-2013. As showed in Fig. 2, the age distribution is skewed to the left, with a peak at around one year-old (38% of total animals entering the shelter). The linear regression analysis highlighted a significant decrease in the average age of the dogs entering the shelter across the years (b= -0.11, p>0.0001; Fig. 3). During the study period, 879 puppies (12.8% of the total population), usually arriving in litters, entered the PS. However, most of the dogs captured from the territory were healthy adult FRDs (67.3%; average year entrance=359.3, median=347.5 dogs). The remaining fifth of the population was represented by 6.7% (n=463) of dangerous dogs, that either showed aggressive behaviours or had attacked people; 7.1% (n=487) of injured animals (e.g. car accident); 5.2% (n=356) were found with a disease (e.g. gastro-enteric or respiratory disorders, mange, alopecia); and 1% (n=63) included abused animals, or dogs reported to predate livestock or other small animals. The majority of FRDs entering the PS were stray-unowned dogs (91%), the remaining 9% (n=667) were owned dogs that escaped or that were left free to roam unsupervised on the territory. A significant positive correlation emerged between the number of captured dogs in each municipality and the human population (R=0.87, p<0.0001). The 10 municipalities where most of the dogs were collected (64% of all dogs) were the 10 municipalities with more inhabitants, also these were predominantly plain or coastal areas. When looking at the FRDs/inhabitants ratio instead, the 10 municipalities with the highest ratio were in the mountains (Fig. 4) although no significant difference emerged comparing the different types of territories among them (H= 2.9, p =0.23). After veterinary check-up, dogs could have different destinies. In the current study, 7.9% owned dogs returned to their owners, 50.8% unowned dogs were adopted or housed in rescue shelter for adoption, 32.3% were released on the territory as ‘community dogs’, and 8.9% of the total either died or were euthanized for reasons in compliance with the national law. The remaining 9 dogs (0.1%) escaped from the PS. While a low percentage of dogs were returned to owners or euthanized, with rather constant numbers across the years, a clear increase in the number of animals destined for adoption can be seen with an opposite reduction in the number of dogs released on the territory (Fig. 5). Comparing these two groups (adoptions and territory) using a chi-square test revealed that before 2006 the number of animals destined for adoption was significantly below that expected by chance, while after 2006, it was significantly higher than would be expected by chance ( χ 2 =762.9; p<0.0001). A total of 463 dogs entered the PS of Pescara due to being involved in aggressive attacks or bite events. Of these, 65 (14%) were owned dogs, whilst the remaining 398 were strays. The association between aggressive events and ownership was found to be significant ( χ 2 =15.3; p<0.0001). In particular, the observed frequencies of aggressive owned dogs were significantly higher than the expected frequencies for this group. Looking at breed types, 59.8% were mongrels (not ascribed to any specific breed) 7.6% were Abruzzi sheepdog cross-breeds, 5.2% were Abruzzi sheepdog (pure breed), 5.2% German shepherd dog cross breed, 5% Pit Bull type, 3.9 and 3.7% were German shepherd dog and Rottweiler respectively. Other breeds were represented by around 1% or below. After an accurate anamnesis and behavioural consultations most dogs were reintroduced on the territory, given up for adoption or returned to their owner (n=350). The remaining dogs (21%) were declared dangerous and euthanized in accordance with law prescriptions. Sterilisation events were not reported in the record forms of the PS before 2002. During the remaining years, Pescara PS veterinarians performed 4,580 sterilisations, 85.6% on females. Among dogs entering in the PS, 289 were already neutered and among these, only 28 were owned out of a total of 667 (4.2%) owned dogs. The average number of sterilisations per year between 2002 and 2013 was 381.7 (median 382; Q =360.3; Q =407.5). 1 3 Looking only at owned dogs, a highly significant association emerged between sex and neutering status ( χ 2 = 21.7; p<0.0001). A significantly higher proportion of neutered female (85.7%), compared to neutered male dogs (14.3%), entered the shelter. On average, 350 ±29.4 (mean±SD) entire stray females and 17±7.1 (mean±SD) entire owned females dogs entered the PS each year. A significant difference also emerged when comparing the age of sterilised animals entering the PS, these being older than non-sterilised dogs (sterilised: mean= 5.9 y.o.; non- sterilised: mean= 2.0; p<0.0001) A total of 515 FRDs captured from the territory were “community dogs” (under the TNR programme), therefore had an identification code (i.e. microchip). No free-roaming dog that had already been identified entered the PS in 2000 and only two did so in 2001. Between 2002 and 2013 a mean of 42.8±8.3SD already identified dogs per year entered the PS (8.9% of the average yearly entrance rate of unowned FRD entering the shelter), of which 42.5% were injured, ill or involved in attacks or bite events. According to their status, ...

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... Free-roaming dogs (FRDs) are a worldwide problem, particularly in developing countries [1][2][3][4]. Dogs that are allowed to roam unsupervised cause an array of problems such as vehicle accidents, dog fights, disease transmission, attacks on wildlife, attacks on other domestic animals and humans, uncontrolled reproduction, and the contamination of public areas with fecal matter and garbage [1][2][3][5][6][7]. ...
... However, this is not what happened. It was determined that the rate of immigration was higher than the rate of sterilization, so unfortunately, the goal of controlling the FRD population size through sterilization was never achieved [6]. Additionally, studies of sterilization programs suggest that the goals of reducing a population through sterilization will be met anywhere from 10 to 30 years, depending on the local conditions and the sterilization effort [62,63]. ...
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... Particularly in rural areas, FRDs can have several consequences toward wildlife welfare and conservation (Cleaveland et al., 2000;Gompper, 2014) and in economic activities such as tourism (Plumridge & Fielding, 2003;Ruiz-Izaguirre & Eilers, 2012) or livestock production (Montecino-Latorre & San Martín, 2018). The control of FRDs also involves ethical concerns, as they typically live under poor welfare conditions, being potentially vulnerable to car accidents, hunger, diseases, and abuse (Barnard et al., 2015). 2004). ...
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... Although the sustained encouragement to increase animal welfare in the United States has been credited with reducing the number of dogs euthanized (Rowan & Williams, 1987), the more limited resources of animal welfare groups in small island developing nations can be expected to result in a less consistent approach. Further, spaying and neutering activities alone may not be enough to reduce the number of free-roaming dogs, as demonstrated in Italy (Barnard et al., 2015). The common use of the word "campaign" associated with spay/neuter activities (e.g., Ortega-Pacheco, Ríos-Pérez, Mis-Ávila, Martín-Ortiz, & Young, 2012) suggests an initiative of limited duration, which may reflect limited resources. ...
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Effective management of non-native species in protected areas is fundamental for biodiversity conservation on a global level. In recent years, the extent of protected areas has increased along with the human population, and this has led to negative anthropic impacts within and along the edges of these areas. In particular, a non-native species, the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), has become one of the main threats to wildlife in anthropized areas and their surroundings. Through an online survey we evaluated the relationship between four aspects that link society with dogs, wildlife and protected areas: i) awareness of dog-wildlife interaction, ii) appreciation of protected areas and wildlife, iii) level of concern about aggressive events on the part of dogs towards wildlife and people, and iv) level of agreement with measures to regulate dog access to protected areas. We also sought to map the potential threat of dogs to wildlife. We found that free-roaming dogs are widespread throughout Argentina: they are present in at least 78.5 % of the protected areas visited by respondents. The greater respondents' awareness of dog-wildlife interaction, the more concerned they were about dog attacks and the less they agreed with allowing dogs access to protected areas. Respondents' concerns about the threats from dogs depended on how often they had witnessed dog attacks on wildlife and their appreciation of protected areas and wildlife. A multidisciplinary management plan for free-roaming dogs is urgently needed. This should include controlling populations in sensitive areas, and conducting outreach campaigns on responsible pet ownership.
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Free-roaming dogs (FRD) represent a large proportion of the canine population in India and are often implicated as a source of conflict with humans. However, objective data on the attitudes and perceptions of local communities toward FRD are lacking. This study collected baseline data from 1141 households in Goa, India, on FRD feeding practices and assessed people’s attitudes toward FRD in urban and rural communities. Additionally, respondents identified problems caused by FRD and proposed potential solutions. The study reported that 37% of respondents fed FRD with dog owners and Hindus being the most likely to feed. The majority of respondents agreed FRD were a menace (57%), a nuisance (58%) and scary (60%). Most respondents also agreed FRD were a vulnerable population (59%), that belong in communities (66%) and have a right to live on the streets (53%). Barking was the most commonly reported problem associated with FRD and the preferred solution was to impound FRD in shelters. This study reveals the complex and often misunderstood relationship between local communities and FRD and highlights potential strategies to reduce human–dog conflict.
Article
During the last 30 years the law regarding stray dogs in Italy evolved from employing euthanasia for these dogs after three days, to long term kenneling of all dogs not seriously or incurably ill or proven aggressive. This was a highly ethical law whose application was extremely difficult because of the lack of financial resources and adequate kenneling facilities. It is fair, necessary and urgent to adopt ethical choices in managing problems connected with stray dogs but decisions must be taken in consideration with thorough evaluation of the situation. Is long term kenneling a correct way to safeguard dogs’ welfare? Are there tools available to evaluate the welfare of these dogs? The available data about the number of stray dogs, both in kennels and roaming, are up to date? Are there financial resources available? Do the structures necessary to accommodate these animals exist and are they adequate? Countries that still have a kill policy should consider these aspects before legislating on this issue.