Are shelters the answer to the street dog overpopulation crisis?

January 26, 2021

You might have wondered why rehoming isn’t the focus of our mission…

Imagine this: you’ve come home from two weeks away to find that your kitchen tap has been running into your sink with the plug in. The whole of your ground floor is flooded. What do you do? 

We’re pretty sure that you wouldn’t grab a bucket and start to bail out the water, or build a tank in your garden to store the overflow. You’d go to the sink, turn off the tap and pull the plug out. And we think it’s exactly the same with street dog management. 

You can not adopt your way out of overpopulation.

In Sri Lanka, there are thousands of dogs, but nowhere near thousands of good homes for them. Whereas in the UK or America, a dog might be taken to a shelter or pound, and risk euthanization after a legal holding period, in Asian countries like Sri Lanka, excess dogs tend to be left at the roadside. 

In the UK, it is estimated that over 1,300 dogs were put to sleep between 2018 and 2019 (Dogs Trust Stray Dogs Survey Report 2018-19). These figures don’t include the thousands of dogs discarded from the Greyhound racing industry or puppy mills each year. Even in the UK, rehoming strategies don’t always work. 

Adoption and rehoming centres are not bad things. 

But rehoming organisations struggle to match dogs to good homes, and non-rehoming shelters are expensive to run. Many in Sri Lanka are underfunded, understaffed and can become unsafe for dogs. Simply put, they’re not the solution to this crisis. 

Stopping a problem before it starts.

In Sri Lanka, like the UK, it's impossible to find a home for every dog, no matter how much love we give them. So instead, like a leaking tap, the problem just keeps growing, with more dogs on the streets every day. The only way to stop the flow? An award winning spay/neuter service - the largest of its kind in Sri Lanka. 

By sterilising dogs, we give them a life free of unwanted pregnancies and pups. We stem the crisis and can instead focus on giving the dogs that are on the streets the veterinary care they need. Vaccines, skin treatments, and even food during the COVID-19 pandemic - these all make a significant difference to the lives of existing street dogs. 

Thanks to you, we’re currently at 44,000 sterilisations and counting. Happy, healthy, and not contributing towards the overpopulation crisis - that’s the aim for every animal in the care of The Dogstar Foundation. Because no animal should be born to die. 

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