The issue of dog poisoning is always a very sensitive topic when it comes to government officials using it as a form of controlling the stray dog population in the country. But it’s one that needs to be practiced if we want to keep a healthy community. It has been a practice used in Belize for years, but in this day and age when there are various other techniques that can be used, people wonder why the poisoning of dogs with strychnine is still carried out. In light that the Orange Walk Town Council and the Health Department has launched its dog eradication campaign we decided to shed some light on the somewhat controversial topic and find out why dog eradication, although cruel as it may seem, is important health wise. Maria Novelo followed the story and filed the following report.

 

Screen_Shot_2014-01-22_at_8.07.35_PMMaria Novelo – Reporting


It’s a problem that all concerned agree could and should be handled better … but the practice of poisoning stray dogs has persisted for decades in Belize due to health purposes. And in this light, the dog eradication campaign has been launched here in Orange Walk. Public Health Inspector, Karel Heredia, says stray dogs are targeted based on community complaints.


Karel Heredia– Public health Inspector


“We tend to see a high amount of dog bits and people complaining that we have a stray animals chasing people on bicycle and causing a problem, tearing dirt or garbage bin or whatever, so we conduct a dog eradication to better have a control over the situation and at the same time promote health, a healthier community.”


Maria Novelo - Reporter


“Now there are some instances where a dog that always get in the yard would get loose and then post a problem while he is out, then you would have some neighbors probably vindictive, they would call you guys and say there is a dog biting out there, would that dog be eligible for eradiation?”


Karel Heredia– Public health Inspector


“No if it has an owner we don’t and as a matter of fact if that dog bites someone we cannot kill that animal, we have to have that animal under surveillance for a period of ten days to verify that that animal does not have the rabies virus, this is where we come in with the rabies control, rabies control program, anytime we have a dog bite we ask the owner to restrain that animal for a period of ten days until we can further our investigation and make sure that the person that dog bit doesn’t have any symptoms of rabies or whatever.”


For decades, the system of eradication of stray dogs in Belize has been through the use of one of the most aggressive forms of poisons, called strychnine. This poison is a white powder which is odorless. Strychnine causes extreme pain to its victim, causing the animal’s muscles to go into spasms, leading to death. While the campaign is solely for health purposes, Heredia says last year approximately 150 stray dogs were euthanized.


Karel Heredia– Public health Inspector


“Under the dog Act, any person who has a dog must keep it on a leach or must keep it properly tied, any dog that is loose of stray is liable to be eradicated.”


Maria Novelo - Reporter


“I’m curious to know how is it that you guys point out lets go say a stray dog, how would you know that that dog id problematic?”


Karel Heredia– Public health Inspector


“Based on complains, based on the behavior of the animal, based on whatever problem it is causing, maybe it is destroying garbage bags, maybe it is chasing riders or even being vicious or aggressive towards the general population.”


The dog eradication campaign is being carried out by the Orange Walk Town Council and the Public Health Department.

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