Why is a free spay/neuter service needed in Namibia?
Namibia is a large, developing country, and with a population of just 2.4 million people, has one of the lowest population densities worldwide plus a very high unemployment rate.
The fact that just 30 % of the population have direct access to veterinary care, coupled with long distances between towns, limited options for public transport and low or no income, often mean dogs, cats and other animals go their entire lives without veterinary care and attention.
A direct consequence of this is uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats, producing ever increasing stray populations across rural Namibia.
Such populations are unwanted and problematic, causing human health risks and a danger to local wildlife which are often hunted when stray dogs or cats are forced to find their own food. Also the WHO recons for many years that witnessing mass killing of dogs and cats cause a lot of stress in adults and especially children, often resulting in PTS, followed by violent behavior. Sterilisation and the resulting sustainable and humane reduction in stray dog and cat populations will ultimately lead not only to less dogs and cats becoming homeless, but also to more safety for everyone in the community.
What does Have-a-Heart Namibia hope to achieve?
Have-a-Heart Namibia aims to provide Have-a-Heart’s services to dogs and cats from no and low income families in (remote) towns and settlements Namibia. Ultimately Have-a-Heart Namibia will bring about a humane reduction in stray dog and cat populations by sterilisation – stopping unwanted and uncontrolled breeding in these towns.
The health and welfare status of the dogs and cats will be vastly improved by the protection from various potentially life threatening diseases and control against internal and external parasites, such as those causing mange.
Additionally female dogs and cats will be free from the endless cycle of having puppies, and male dogs and cats will be less prone to fighting and wandering the streets in search of females, which all too often results in animals suffering or dying in road accidents in Namibia.
From past experience working in towns all over Namibia, we know it is possible for an experienced vet to sterilise an average of 25 dogs and cats per day, whilst volunteers provide dipping services to free dogs of external parasites to over 100 dogs in a single morning, therefore Have a Heart can quickly have a sustainable impact in rural communities.
Additionally Have-a-Heart Namibia will bring about the following advantages to the local human and wildlife communities:
Rabies is a potentially fatal disease causing acute inflammation of the brain. In unvaccinated humans rabies is 99.9 % fatal after neurological symptoms have developed. It is estimated that over 99 % of human cases of rabies are caused by dog bites, with 40 % of cases being children under 15 years of age.
The World Health Organisation recommends vaccinating dogs as the most humane and (cost-)effective method of eliminating rabies. Every dog and cat Have-a-Heart sterilises is also vaccinated against rabies, therefore stopping the possibility of transmission of this fatal disease to humans and other animals.
Dog bites are a common problem, with dog bites affecting tens of millions of people globally each year. Serious bacterial infections of soft tissue or bone (osteomyelitis) can arise which can become life-threatening if left untreated, as well as substantial scarring.
It is estimated that 92 % of dog attacks are by male dogs, and that 94 % of them are not neutered.
By spaying or neutering animals, their temperament is often altered, with the animals generally becoming calmer, less territorial and therefore less aggressive.
Have-a-Heart has the following benefits to local wildlife populations:
Hunting of wildlife
With limited resources, families of no and low income often struggle both financially and physically to cope with the addition of one or more litters of kittens or puppies. All too often this results in these animals becoming homeless and roaming the streets, forced to find their own food and water, may lead to the hunting of wildlife. This has been recorded twice within the last years in Luderitz alone, when stray dogs began hunting Oryx and Springbok.
Spaying and neutering is the only proven, sustainable way to reduce stray animal populations, therefore Have-a-Heart is working to reduce the problem of stray animals hunting wildlife.
Canine distemper: This is a contagious and serious viral illness with no known cure. It can be transferred from domestic dogs to wildlife and vice versa, and is one of the major threats to the survival of the African Wild Dog.
Hybridization: Any stray cats in rural areas have the potential to mate with African wild cat; a species which is currently threatened by hybridization with the domestic cat. Cats roam a lot more than dogs, therefore the only way to stop the possibility of hybridization is by desexing.