TNR Trial for Dogs

A pregnant loosely owned dog - the type of dog ripe for TNR.A pregnant loosely owned dog - the type of dog ripe for TNR.

The SPCA believes that the reproduction of unowned roaming dogs (both stray and feral) contributes significantly to the surplus dog population and is committed to developing an animal birth-control programme that addresses this, provided that dogs are in a suitable environment.

In many Asian countries, dog TNR is used not only as a means to limit the population but also to control the spread of rabies.

In 2015, after decades of lobbying, SPCA finally obtained approval to conduct a Government approved Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Trial in Islands District. At the same time, the Society for Abandoned Animals was given approval to carry out a trial in Yuen Long District. Unfortunately, despite all the hard work, there are currently only two official trial sites. However, progress has been made as, with Government approval and exemptions under related legislations, it is now possible for dog TNR to be undertaken legally as long as certain conditions and criteria are met. SPCA is continuing the search for more potential TNR trial sites. Given that our TNR programme for cats, the Cat Colony Care Programme, has been so successful, we believe that a wider TNR programme for dogs can be an equally impactful tool to assist with dog management in Hong Kong.

OUTLINE FOR THE TNR TRIAL

Length of the trial and assessment

The length of the trial is slated for 3 years and will be monitored by AFCD as well as an independent consultant hired by AFCD, who will also develop a scientific and statistically sound population assessment methodology before the trial.

Site selection

In 2015, two sites were finally approved by the government to commence the Dog TNR trial. Two control sites where no TNR is carried out were also selected by the AFCD and its consultant for comparison purposes.

TNR sites were chosen based on their location, the existence of committed and responsible carers, the suitability of the dogs in the area and the support of the local community.

Criteria for measuring the effectiveness of the trial

Results from the trial site will be compared with a similar control site in terms of:

  • The number of relevant and valid complaints from residents. All complaints will be evaluated by the AFCD and the Animal Welfare Organisations at each site.
  • Changes in the stray dog population.
  • Other factors such as the condition and welfare of the dogs, number of dogs removed, reproductive rate and cost effectiveness will also be considered.

The trial site and a control site in a similar district will be evaluated after 1.5 years and 2.5 years.

Goals: Short term, Medium term and Long term

The TNR trial is not just about de-sexing dogs and returning them to where they came from.

For sustained success, it requires a systematic understanding of the dog populations that contribute to the problem of overpopulation in any particular area. In that sense, no two locations will be exactly the same.

Though SPCA’s target population is unowned roaming (feral-stray) dogs, SPCA also hopes to study how dog keeping habits of surrounding populations of owned and loosely owned dogs affect the outcome of this TNR trial.

Short term: stop reproduction, regulate resources
  1. A significant percentage of dogs need to be de-sexed in order to reduce the reproduction rate.
  2. Regulate feeding - dogs are fed at specific times to ensure that the maximum number of dogs can be caught. Leftover food also attracts other animals such as wild pigs, which can promote aggression between dogs, pigs and other animals, as well as poor public hygiene.
  3. Public education and service support for owners of nearby owned and loosely owned dog populations, encouraging responsible pet ownership, desexing, vaccination and licensing.
  4. Monitor abandonment and remove any dogs not originally from the area.
Medium term: stop immigration, stabilise dog population
  1. Reduce amount of freely available resources, such as improved waste management and restricted feeding, to discourage new dogs from entering the area. De-sexed dogs remaining cannot reproduce.
  2. Active management of surrounding owned and loosely owned dog populations through continued public education, low cost de-sexing etc. so as to prevent immigration of undesexed dogs.
Long term: reduction of total dog population, reduction of resources
  1. Existing population of unowned de-sexed dogs will gradually die out. Feeding is decreased as the numbers of drop, ensuring that the environment cannot support any more dogs.
  2. Public education and community outreach regarding responsible pet ownership continues.