Mauritius has strong economic growth and is the third richest country in Africa, attracting many wealthy individual’s to the island each year. It is a popular holiday destination amongst international visitors with its lavish hotels and beautiful beaches. Whilst it seems an idyllic tropical island, the ‘island of dreams’, Mauritius is hiding a dark secret.
The horror of catch and kill
Unbeknown to many who visit this picturesque island in the Indian Ocean, dogs are suffering daily at the hands of a cruel and outdated ‘catch and kill’ practice put in place by the Government to control the number of stray dogs.
Quite simply, it’s inhumane, in no way effective, and an awful, outdated, heartless form of control. Dog catchers roam the streets capturing dogs in nets before carelessly throwing them in the back of their vans and driving to the pound, which is operated for The Government by the Mauritius Society for Animal Welfare (MSAW). Most of the dogs are strays, but it is not unusual for catchers to take pets from gardens to make up their quotas.
Once in the pound, the poor dogs are kept in horrendous conditions for days with very little room to move and no food and water. Temperatures may also exceed 40 degrees plus. Many are starving and dehydrated, which leads to fights and, in some cases, cannibalism. If no one claims the dogs, they are given a vile intra-cardiac lethal injection through the rib cage and into the contracting muscle to the heart. It is an extremely painful procedure deemed unacceptable by the veterinary community, and it is hit or miss. While some dogs die immediately, for many, it’s a slow, painful death. Some stagger around for hours till they eventually die, while others scramble terrified and try to escape, knowing their fate.
This type of catch and kill cull is barbaric, heartless and pointless. It simply doesn’t work to keep the numbers down and certainly doesn’t do Mauritius any favours in terms of tourism.
A suitable alternative?
It is clear there needs to be a more humane, compassionate and sustainable approach to keeping stray dog numbers down, for example, a spay and neuter program. This would also stop the cruelty. Humane Society International has already set one up on the island, but there is a lack of enthusiasm for change
seems to be a lack of change on the political side to really enhance it.
Campaigners are now demanding that MSAW be reformed into an independently operated organisation targeting animal welfare. They are calling for the pound to be transformed into an animal hospital, asking for a revision to incorporate a sterilisation programme and pushing for large penalties for animal abuse or cruelty. Additionally, they would like to introduce a canine adoption programme and ensure that Mauritius allows veterinarians from abroad to work on the island. They have also taken out an injunction to oppose the catch and kill coverage.
How you can help
Things have to change drastically. To help, please click the link and sign to help the SOI Dog Foundation’s call to the Mauritian Prime Minister to end this cruel, outdated practice and to introduce a ‘national comprehensive humane dog management programme’.
Please also share this article to raise awareness to others about what is happening on the island so that we can end the cruelty and abuse of the dogs.
Campaign by volunteer writer, Susan Bulloch