Is A Spay the Only Way?
Many people are unaware of the many organizations that are devoted to helping animals in need or have misconceptions about rescue animals. Through education and awareness, we hope to bridge this gap.
Berkeley's Place works hard to network with as many organizations as we can to bring awareness to the plight of animal rescue, including providing critical food, supplies and emergency funding for vulnerable animals throughout Alberta by providing support to rescues registered with the Berkeley’s Place network.
Our vision is to be a leader within our community by providing information sharing and resources for at risk First Nation Communities.
Spay and neuter is often the only option provided to help reduce the populations of unwanted animals. In many cases this strongly contradicts a culture. Spay/neuter clinics can leave homeless, stray and outdoor animals at high risk of infection due to their environment, and many of these animals find the process traumatic never being in a vehicle or crate, causing the fear and anxiety to begin almost immediately.
Looking for solutions that would help and work within the moral compass of the families we work with, we have began moving towards hormonal implants. This technology is not new and has proven its effectiveness of controlling many challenges by “Dogs with No Names”, an internationally recognized contraceptive implant program for female dogs on First Nations communities, created by Dr. Judith Samson-French.
A puppy can get pregnant for the first time at 6 – 18 months of age and can get pregnant every 6 – 7 months. The average pregnancy lasts 63 to 65 days with an average litter size of 2 – 20 puppies.
A hormone capsule is inserted under the skin in a quick procedure. Local freezing allows this process to be painless. Males can receive their first dose at 4 months and the implant is effective after 4 weeks. Females can receive their first dose at 6 months, with contraception effective after 2 weeks.
The project, which helps reduce the population of unwanted puppies on First Nations communities by implanting female dogs with non-surgical contraceptive implants, is recognized by the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs. The contraceptive implant called Deslorelin, was introduced in 2004 by Peptech Animal Health, a biotech company in Australia. It takes 60 seconds to implant the chip and it lasts 22 to 24 months.
Our goal over a three year period is to implant 250 female dogs.
Who Will it Benefit?
Female dogs are the biggest welfare concern because they get bred (over and over), have to go through gestation and lactation, and repeat that cycle yearly, even in winter. What if we could prevent this?
Clinics can be set up at a community center requiring a veterinarian to administer a birth control shot to female dogs. At the same time, dogs would be microchipped, dewormed and vaccinated.
Since female dogs would no longer be going into heat, male dogs no longer have reason to be aggressive. In a pilot project, six months after implantation, follow up interviews with the owners of female dogs reported relief that they didn’t have eight or more male dogs parked on their doorstep waiting to ambush a female dog in heat.
The community becomes a much safer place to walk around in, with regards to free-roaming dogs, and people also will take pride in the care of their dogs. Working with the guardians, we stay in contact with the community which creates change, mutual respect/learning.
Dogs do not need to be removed and are not released into community without pain medication, requiring healing from surgeries or incisions and there is no risk of infection or other complications. 100 stray female dogs receiving an implant should prevent about 100,000 births over the next few years.
In free-roaming feral or loosely owned populations of dogs, initially targeting females for sterilization has the most immediate benefit for human community health and safety in rapidly reducing canine population numbers. In addition, female contraception/sterilization has a huge impact on dog welfare (we can not imagine what it would be like to be in heat for 7 days, relentlessly chased, mounted, and bred by packs of dogs, unable to sleep, eat and drink, and then start a 4 month journey of gestation and lactation).
The effect of the implant program makes the community safer for children, other pets and members at risk of dog attacks.
The program also helps to build trust, share information and empower guardians. The number of puppies being born would be drastically reduced.