Photo credits: ORCA
This year ORCA launched a new model aimed at permanently solving the problem of stray dogs in the Western Balkans. The multilevel approach includes the expertise of veterinarians, ecologists, lawyers and sociologists from Serbia, the UK and Switzerland and makes the model a one of a kind in the region. Named ‘For people and dogs’ the programme is set to be in line with the World Health Organisation standards while responding to the needs of local self-governments in Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo.
In response to the growing dog population management problem in the Western Balkans, ORCA set a goal of developing a unique model that would respond to the needs of local municipalities. They started with conducting a comprehensive research aimed at determining the size and characteristics of owned and stray dog population, manners of keeping dogs, habits and behaviours of owners in local communities. The results revealed three categories of stray dogs: freely roaming owned dogs; unowned community dogs whose movement is tied to food, water, shelter and care of the people in community and feral dogs who avoid contact with humans and are self-reliant in relation to water, food and shelter.
Following the research ORCA invited the representatives of the state administration, local self-governments, zoo-hygiene departments, veterinarians, schools, media, local environmental organisations, animal protection organisations and health institutions to help develop a sustainable and result oriented programme. Finally, a working body representing all actors involved was established to control the implementation of all defined measures, respond to challenges during the implementation phase and monitor efficiency of the measure.
For example, in response to the identified stray dogs categories, the experts concluded that controlling the population of each of the category requires prioritising different measures. For free roaming owned dogs identification and registration is very important, but for other two categories of dogs, sterilisation is of much higher priority.
Apart from the research and monitoring process, ORCA now actively engages in developing public policy and legislation proposals based on identified needs of local community as well as strengthening capacities of mentioned actors important for dog population control. Their goal is to include dog welfare education into teaching and school programmes with an aim to transfer knowledge, develop skills and attitudes of children and youth. This is particularly important for permanent, humane and efficient solution to the problem of abandoned animals. ORCA believes the long term change can only be obtained by asserting responsible attitudes toward animals and the environment from an early age.
ORCA is now engaging in public campaigns and working with dog owners with the aim of promoting responsible ownership and enabling active participation of citizens in solving the problems of stray animals.