Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Letter to the Editor


Animal welfare groups and volunteer vets in Selangor achieved a victory of sorts when they teamed up to carry out a mass neutering campaign on 27th June 2009 at Pulau Ketam, where 23 dogs (pets and strays) and 7 pet cats were successfully neutered. As more and more Malaysians demonstrate greater concern for animal welfare, there is a vital need to ensure that stray cats and dogs and free-roaming pets that have been neutered be identified as such.

At the moment, there is no requirement that spayed and neutered pets and strays must carry any sort of marking to identify them as neutered animals. As such, there is a risk that precious resources may be wasted recapturing and conducting exploratory surgery on neutered animals just to find out their reproductive history. Of course, putting an animal under anaesthesia to conduct an unnecessary surgery is also highly traumatic and stressful for the animal concerned, as well as a waste of time and manpower.

Several independent animal groups which conduct trap-neuter-and-release programmes use ear-tipping to identify neutered cats. However, ear tipping does not work as well for dogs, as not all dogs have pointed ears. In addition, some pet owners object to ear-tipping their pets when adopting from shelters, pounds and rescue groups, and an unobtrusive tattoo near the site of the spay/neuter incision would offer a more aesthetically acceptable solution.

If executed by a qualified vet, tattooing performed under anaesthesia at the same time as a major surgery (i.e neutering/spaying) is an inexpensive, safe, painless and stress-free procedure. It is also a permanent way of marking an animal, compared to merely using special collars, ID tags and ear tags. In some developed nations and in many states in the USA, the law forbids the use of tattooed animals in laboratory experiments, or the euthanasia of tattooed animals by animal control units. The only drawback of tattooing is that equipment should be autoclaved between each animal to prevent infections and blood transmitted diseases, but that should be done of all surgery equipment as a matter of course by any competent vet anyway.

Perhaps the Department of Veterinary Services, animal welfare groups and local councils can explore the possibility of coming up with a universally accepted and recognisable way of identifying neutered and released strays and free-roaming pets. If a system could be set up to use tattooing as a means of identifying pets and of tracing the pets back to their owners, the local councils could also consider creating a system whereby tattooed pets may not be impounded, or if impounded, may not be euthanized until all efforts to trace the owners have been made. This move may go a long way towards streamlining efforts to carry out mass neutering campaigns and trap-neuter-and-release strategies, and at the same time, create recognition for the fact that neutering pets and strays benefits animal health and human society.



hobbit1964 said...

Yes, registration is often to key to proper monitoring and data acquisition whatever the field may be.

But here is the task we are called to, that we fulfill our role in establishing the right relationship between all creation and the Creator. There can be only one right relationship: that we be hospitable to those who were here before us, and learn from those who hurt our abode less than we do.

All for it!!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Jeff! Truer words have never been uttered.: that we be hospitable and respectful to those who were here before us, and learn from those who hurt our abode less than we do. If only people could learn to love, share and give half as much as dogs do, what a different place the world would be!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

CO78, tattooing? Ouch!
Every feline in our family has been neutered but since we're all totally there a need? What about microchips? We have a strict law here that all pets must be registered and microchipped with info like owners' details, contacts and medical history. When a stray is found, the first thing the authorities or RSPCA do is scan for microchip behind the ears.
What say you? purrr purrr purrr.....meow!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hello again, Cat-in-Sydney! I would recommend microchipping for all pets (even indoor ones, in case they escape or are stolen), and tattooing for all shelter animals and free-roaming neutered strays. Tattooing is inexpensive and works well in trap-neuter-release programmes, and you don't need a chip scanner to detect tattoos, esp if your objective is just to find out whether a roamer has been previously neutered.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Whenever I try to jump out of the front door, my Mama would tell me, "yeah? so u want to run away from home? think you can survive on the streets?" ...teehee..
I must have given her a heart attack many times...
Tattooes for stray cats and dogs? You get my vote 100%!!! meow!

Unknown said...

Certainly a victory to have carried this exercise through. Well done!
Read your letter in the NST. Thanks for championing these furry creatures :)
Tatooing sounds great to me. Have the relevant bodies got together to explore this idea? I personally do not know of pet owners individuals who tatoo or insert microchips. Guess we have not 'arrived'!

mamasita said...

Hai E.Lynn.. many things to be done for the animal welfare..luckily they've got very outspoken people like keep up helping them ye..

Not many are as rajin like you're a real gem!!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats, thanks for the words of encouragement. Right now there are efforts, but they are not unified or recognised by the authorities. One shelter practices tattooing, another does ear-tipping, a third goes for collaring and ID tagging. The mind boggles. As for the animals that are on the street and not in shelters, nobody has made any efforts to ID the neutered ones. Silly, isn't it?

Dear Datin Mamasita, thanks for your kind words. I wish all animals were as lucky as your happy well-fed Lady Yoda and Momo.

nat said...

Pros n cons - tattoo fade over time, and for the roaming ones you actually have to CATCH it to examine it.

Ear tipping (more appropriately called ear notching) for dogs is not done over the pointy tips all the time. The best one I've seen is a semi-circle notch over the side of the ears. Floppy, hairy ears, all very visible from afar. Great for strays, not so aesthetic for adoption though.

Microchip is definitely one of the easiest and more permanent than tattooing. Plus, needs less handling to read it compared to tattoos. However, it does rely heavily on someone to keep the database!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Dr. Nat! If a stray were microchipped, all it would say is that it had been neutered, right? If the city council animal control unit doesn't carry as chip reader along on its ops, they would not know the dogs had been neutered, right? So... ear-tipping or ear-tattooing would still be more visible and less costly, but not so pretty, right? Sigh! Looks like there's no straight solution to this!