Last week I discussed one pattern I noticed while conducting our annual census on St. Croix. Well, as the census progressed a new pattern made me put on my breaks (literally): so many dogs with homes are walking around free. And of course we know what can happen when dogs are left to their own devices: PUPPIES!
During the census, I record the animals that I see into 4 categories: stray, confined owned, chained owned, and loose owned. Not only am I getting a sense of how many animals there are in particular neighborhoods, but I am also gathering a better understanding how people care for their animals and how their behavior contributes to overpopulation. Last year I discovered that half of all dogs were confined by a fenced yard, protected from wandering dogs, and the remaining were at risk of contributing new puppies to the population.
This year, however, I was startled to see this proportion change. There were dogs running around everywhere! The number of loose animals doubled to represent one third of all dogs that I counted. I saw this across the board, in all 5 random areas of the island that I sampled. While loose dogs are more likely to be small in size—and can be seen squeezing in and out of their fenced yards—it was still very common to see large dogs in the streets as well.
Faulty fencing won’t help keep a bulging dog population from growing. So I am putting out a plea to Home Depot to provide in-neighborhood fence building workshops; proper fencing will keep even the most clever Chihuahua from escaping. Why Home Dept? They opened up a new store and Caribbean distribution center here on St. Croix just 2 weeks ago. Talk about a great way to say hello to your new neighbors, Home Depot – join us in our mission to end overpopulation!