Whitepaper on the subject of neuter campaigns in Spain.

Committed to improving the welfare of all domestic animals through veterinary science, practice, education and debate, especially those suffering in Spain due to indiscriminate breeding, abandonment, ignorance and mistreatment!
Introduction Due to the need for a highly effective neuter & spay campaign in Spain we wrote this white paper witch explains the origin of the overpopulation problem and the possible solution to optimize a neuter & spay campaign. To make sure we write ‘sense’, we thoroughly have been studying the concept of neuter campaigns in various countries and pointed it towards “Clean, Effective and Fast or CEF” combined with the specific situation of Spain. At the meantime we studied the differences between the conventional techniques for Castration through the so called “Linea Alba” and the techniques you mentioned called “Lateral or 7 minutes”. For even more information we looked at the domestic approach that local vets commonly are using. We took in account the long term effects of a neuter campaign. As well in its offspring diminution aspects as in its medical- and esthetical aspects. We then took in consideration the potential pets holders point of view regarding adopting castrated dogs and the way local vets feel about large neuter campaigns. All this research added to the findings mentioned here in this white paper. Problem area What causes the problems: 1. Is it the nuisance of street dogs? 2. Is it the abandoned dog that ends up in shelters? 3. Is it the way for instance “Hunters” threat and abandon their dogs? If we define the main problem and its origin, we can also define a castration campaign that really works. An effective campaign goes there were the neuter effect, if carried out dense enough, will bring the flood of not wanted dogs to tolerable proportions. Leading to less dogs in shelters and far less dogs being exported to other countries. While diminishing the export we also diminish the export of spreading deceases to other countries. To virtually eradicate the problem with some 95% effectiveness, only a very effective, by the government supported, campaign towards pet owners and shelters can do the trick. Each owner, if he is not a registered breeder, should castrate his pet. But describing the solution on the level of a pet owner is not the intent of this white paper. Furthermore we have the enormous problem of the so called ‘Galgeros and Hunters’. Those hunters that use various breeds for the hunt, are one of the groups adding massively, up to 70%, to the negative population growth. A ‘Galgero or a common Hunter’ can easily have up to 30 dogs of witch he will dispose sometimes up to 20 at the end of the hunting season. Their peers, the ‘Gypsy’s’, also add a lot to the problems at hand and with more breeds then only Hunting breeds. Neither at this level we will describe a solution in this white paper.

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

This white paper describes a possible solution at the next level: the shelters! There we can bring down the problem of overpopulation with some 20 to 30%. You might say that this is not true because we do not fore come the entrance of dogs! That would be a wrong assumption if the diminution is not intended higher that 30%, what is still thousands of dogs less to care for at shelters each year. Let me explain how it things go around here in Spain. In Spanish shelters a high number of dogs do not get castrated. The mean reason is a shortage of the needed funds, so it is likely a dog that is adopted is not castrated. Then the story goes a bit like this: When Spanish people take a dog out of a shelter this dog can very likely return in its previous abandoned state. Further more if it has offspring, this offspring will end 75% sure in a shelter. See the vicious circle? Making the numbers on this issue we think that in the end a diminution of the overpopulation with some 30% is not at all exaggerated. Put a number of dogs on it? One bitch has in her lifetime, up to 20 pups who survive and do not get castrated before they get into heat. So those also get pregnant one or several times. Lets say 8 of the first bitch here offspring were bitches too and the rest males. Those bitches will also deliver 8 puppy bitches. That ads up to 281 dogs including the males. We could neuter around 1200 bitches a year. That’s a direct offspring diminution with 337.200 dogs. Work out of the solution for Neutering effectively First of all we must be aware that Spain, although it has a huge pet overpopulation problem, is a lot different from for instance India or South America. The main problem in Spain is not the Street dog but the abandoned ones that end up in shelters. And why? Are there no street dogs that are abandoned? Yes of course but the system works in that way that if a dog is found or spotted, the local police will call the shelter in order to get it catched. That’s why in Spain you will see them walking about in the beach areas but seldom in large numbers. In the inner country you will even more rarely see street dogs at all. If you want to find them, you must go to large waste dump places or at new structure building sites. The ones in the structure building sites are put there on purpose by people who want to have some guardianship over their stuff when there is nobody on the building site. When the construction of those buildings is finished they just leave the dogs where they are. Those become street dogs that are catched and also end up in Shelters. So we can safely say that there are two places where dogs reside who need to be castrated. In Shelters and at peoples home. Those in the streets that are not castrated will, after capture, always end up in a Shelter. Spain has no need for a neuter and return program in the streets! At least not for dogs. For cats its an other story. So as a result it’s fair to say that in Spain it is not the street dog that sustains the unwanted population growth, but it are the inhabitants.

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

Situation at the shelters 90% of the shelters do not have a veterinarian on their payroll. 70% do not have a surgery room nor a decent hospitalization room. More than 50% do put up non castrated dogs for adoption because they cannot keep them any longer. At least 30% do not have any veterinary service at all and a undefined number do not have money for medical attention. Those are the numbers for the average ‘normal’ registered shelters. Besides those, we have the so called “free” shelters or “amateur” shelters. Those are shelters run by non professionals who just keep on taking in dogs. Those shelters are found in large numbers all over Spain. There are about 20 just in the Madrid region. They are not registered, not supported by local governments or donators and do most of the time not comply with the least high hygienic standards. Not to speak about the shortage of funds they have. But whether a shelter is big, small, rich or poor there is always an issue of logistics. Even the greatest and best equipped shelter in Spain can only castrate a maximum of 6-8 dogs a day. Not only due to the technique but more, there is not enough place in hospitalization! So we must bear in mind that the only way of castrating enough dogs is not only to have the right equipment, but also to have the necessary space for post-surgery treatments. We think we have just found what it takes to insure we do not have the same problem. On the long term local town administrations can maybe build sterilization shelters where a dog goes in, gets sterilized and after 5 days goes back to where it came from. Such a special shelter could perfectly well be part of an existing shelter. Provided it does the work for all the surrounding shelters. For instance in Madrid there must come 2 such institutes that take care of the sterilization for the whole of the Madrid province.

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

Breed discrimination Since the beginning of time mankind has been a discriminating species. The so-called white supremacy has always meant that colored people should been used for hard labor as long as they where young and vital. After a certain age the best thing to do was simply disposing of them. When we look at the present time slavery is prohibited by law, but that law does not apply to dogs. And here in Spain mankind does it again: discriminating dogs, not by color but by breed and at a certain age: simply disposing of them or in some cases ‘deportation’ is seen as the best solution at hand! When we take a look at the most common breeds in Spain and put there population numbers against the number of dogs that will end up dead by torture or, at best, in a shelter, we can actually see the degree of discrimination. Probability numbers per breed ending either dead because of abuse’s or maltreatment, or ending in a shelter. Galgo’s : 65 - 90% Hunting breeds like Labradors, Bloodhounds etc: : 40 - 60% Mestiso, Mastin (X-Medium and large breeds) : 30 - 45% Other breeds : 10 - 20% The variations in probability depend on the location in Spain. The more we go south the higher the probability numbers will get.
* The probability numbers are based on the estimated number of dogs born each year, number of dogs per breed in shelters and the reported dead by abuse’s and maltreatment.

Pups They are a different kind of problem. As in Spain it is a habit of giving a little puppy as a present, for instance on Christmas, it is also a “good” habit of disposing of it some 3 months later. In Spain a puppy is more likely to end up in a shelter than a turkey is to end up on a Christmas dinner table!!

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

Technique’s, treatments and local vets Now there is the issue of witch technique to use. Is it really? At least it seems to be the issue. I rather think that the mean issue is how to practice castration without making the whole vet population one big enemy. And to do that we have to be somewhat careful in our approach and even our technique. If we look at it from the menacing point of view of the local vet we could say the best technique is to perform true sterilization a so called ‘tuba ligature’. And this can be performed in a fraction of the time needed for a standard approach. Why do that? Simple as everything stays in place, although with a much smaller chance, the dog could still develop a mama tumor or piometra. In that case the local vet is still needed to perform surgery. But maybe that goes a bit to far in trying to stay friends……. The best way is to do a few things before arriving at a shelter. Especially if we think we could supposedly get some troubles with the local vets. First, and best, is to get the authorization and help from the local government or town administration. In many cases its them whom support more or less the shelter. Second is to try to persuade the local vet that we are only a relief program. The unit will not be at one place forever. Some other things to consider. We do trauma treatments but only to prepare the dog for the local vet or to save a life. After this first aid treatment the local vet takes over. If there is none, of course we do the whole thing. We do not attend pets who belong to private persons. We do not administer chips or rabies vaccines. In that way we act concurrently to existing European free market laws and we can perform our work free of possible legal problems in Spain. We have been talking about this “white paper” with some vets who insured us that if we take care they do not expect a lot of problems with the local vets. Some vets will still feel wronged, but that is, I think, unavoidable. The technique we want to use is the Ovariectomie through the Linea Alba. The highest number of surgeries to be performed in one day is eight pro surgeon. Why only eight? Because Spain divers from for instance India in yet another way then described in the beginning. They have for surgery high hygiene demands, as do we. And in order to have enough material sterilized, the surgery room prepared and the time needed for pre-medications, it all adds up to 1 hour pro dog. But if there is a better technique out there that is faster, meets the same surgical sterility norms and provides better recovery for the dog in question, we will apply it. We use pre-medication followed by induction to start the process, then we use gas-anaesthesia during surgery. Taking in account the anaesthetics, antibiotics and the waste materials we use, each surgery we perform on a bitch costs 22,5 Euros. For a male it is some 15 euros. Without compromising the sterility standards we can not get much cheaper. We leave a full medical dossier at the shelter for each dog treated by us. In that way the dog has always a record usable for other vets. As you see thy can also be happy and healthy!

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

Material needed to meet the challenge In order to be able to go out there and make a difference we must have the right equipment. The first problem, resolving the logistics of hospitalization is easily dealt with. We simply need to apply a very common solution were field work is in order. We will put up a Field Hospital every time we are at a shelter site. It’s easy to put up and break down and it gives us plenty of examination-, surgery- and post surgery space. For example like those used by the red cross or the military units. For transportation and living quarters the best would be a small Bus tiring a cargo holder where the equipment for the Field hospital is in. The Bus should have room to sleep in and some kitchen- and shower facility’s. The actual surgery and hospitalization should be performed in the Field hospital divided in two compartments. One for surgery and one for hospitalization. The hospitalization quarters need 40 benches divided in 20 large size and 20 small. The benches must be foldable in order to transport them. Every dog is kept at least 2 days in hospitalization depending on the overall hygiene state at the shelter where we are. If the hygiene state is poor, comparable to where street dogs live, then the dogs will be kept 5 days in hospitalization before returning to the shelter. The list of things still missing in order to start the campaign: • Field hospital dividable in two quarters; • Bus or bus; • Cargo holder; • 40 foldable benches; • Surgery table; • Consultation table; • Leishmania test sets • ELISA Idexx test for Ehrlichia, Borrelia, Filariae; • Waste materials (Gloves, anaesthetic medication, antibiotics, sutures etc.), • One extra air conditioner. The rest of the needed materials are already in our possession or it will arrive shortly. This includes field anaesthetic device, ECG device, air conditioner, surgery lamp, various hydraulic beds, two sterilisators, emergency packs, vaporisers, computer and so on. As we are mobile there is one very important point of attention! How to get the supplies on the right place in the right time. We will work out some ideas on how to implement a properly working solution for that issue. Medical staff The medical staff is now consisting of two doctors. We will add volunteers to that staff on a regular basis from various universities. We already have some 6 appliances. They all must be in their last year of veterinarian training. Furthermore we will give graduated vets the opportunity to come and study at the mobile unit. This will give them experience and us extra manpower. For those educational programs we will charge a small amount per week for witch they get the educational program, plain ticket, food and shelter. We will also work closely together with the Madrid veterinary university, in order to insure the continuity of the project and to create a bound with local vets. First interviews on that subject were received very enthusiastic. Bulletin boards will mention the project and give information on how to get in touch with us. At any given time there always will be place for maximum two additional students or graduated doctors.

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens

Conclusions and advice At present time and given the local conditions the most appropriate way of conducting an optimal working and effective neuter campaign is to direct the campaign towards the shelters. All the shelters, also those deprived of any help or other means. As shelters have between 100 and 1000 dogs from witch an approximate of 60% are not castrated, the mobile vet unit will have to stay between 1 and 4 weeks at one place. If a shelter has surrounding shelters that are very small or that do not have space to put up the field hospital we will arrange for them to come at our present location. In that way we can help more than one shelter from within one location. This is the so called spider technique. The axe radius we will try to cover is 50-100 km. The technique to use is not the issue but rather a method that always can be improved. We are very open minded on that issue. More of an issue is the relation with local vets. We must take care that we do not compromise them on a not acceptable level and try as much as possible to cooperate with each other. We must try to make the awareness grow among the local population, town administration as well as among shelters. Neutering must and will save you a lot of money and trouble! And if this paper gave you the impression all Spanish people dislike dogs that is not true. There are thousands and thousands of people who love their pets and/or who work as a volunteer in the animal welfare groups. Some ideas that could be implemented at a higher level: • Spain is going towards the Olympics 2012, we think this is a very useful theme. The cleaner and the less problematic all the issues of a country are, the better for the international image. • An other applicable idea would be that Spain raises a pet tax for all pet owners. At this moment they don’t. Then they could legislate that a pet owner of a castrated pet pays only 10% of the amount they would have to pay if the pet where not castrated. Example 100 Euros per year if not castrated or 10 Euros per year for a dog if it’s castrated. The second pet is somewhat cheaper etc. • For shelters the local government could pay an amount in % as a contribution for each dog or cat they castrate. • For private persons the castration of for instance cats could be made cheaper in April and May in that way fore coming the procreation of domestic cats during it’s highest heat period. Final word We are very aware this is a huge project. But we did set up our mind to do it and to do it with all our hart and as professionals. We know that we’ll have to work in very hush circumstances. Temperatures over rising 45 degrees Celsius, dogs with very contagious diseases. Dirty shelters and very bad environmental conditions. Hostilities and other mal encounters. So you see we know very well what we are up against out there, but we’ll live up to the promise we made.

PS: This is a final draft, all your suggestions and / or remarks are very welcome!
** A word of thanks to GIN and the Brighteyes society for their information and the supply of photographic materials used in this White paper. All photo’s are © of GIN (Greyhounds In Need UK).

This white paper is © of IMVETA 2005

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Written by: dr. ir. François Janssens