Scientific and humane solution for stray animals
Recently, the issue of stray cats and dogs has created some controversy. The truth is that whether we like these animals or not, it is still a public problem that society is obliged to deal with. The former Institute for Civic and Municipal Affairs implemented, in 2007, the TNR (trap-neuter-release) program, with the “catch, sterilize and release” solution, instead of slaughter, to control the number of animals. This plan successfully sterilized around 2,000 cats, greatly reducing the number of cullings.
At the time, the control of the animal population was a success. However, it was suddenly suspended in 2015, followed by the passage of the Animal Protection Act in 2016, and then a return by the authorities to the old inhumane solution to the slaughter that took the lives of thousands of dogs and cats.
Several departments, such as the Macao SAR Government or the Municipal Affairs Bureau, have directed immense human resources and capital to try to solve this problem, however, they have not been applauded. On the contrary, they were only met by criticism from animal lover groups. In a civilized city, the adoption of this method of slaughter is revolting and unacceptable, both for animal lovers and for the part of the population that has no affection for them, since this solution is so inefficient that it does not even count as a control measure. The root of the problem lies in the fact that the authorities adopt a simplistic and retrograde attitude. The slaughter of these animals will never be able to keep up with their breeding rate. Several organizations and academics have already criticized the results of this method, claiming its inability to adapt to the development and changes of the urban context.
I have already stressed to the Assembly the importance of “instead of wasting resources on slaughter, using them efficiently”. To this end, the resumption of the TNR program is what the population is looking for.
It is already scientifically proven that more humane methods are more effective in the control of stray animals, and that is why they are used by several countries and regions. The TNR solution has also been adopted by several local animal sanctuaries. I therefore call on the Government to restart the TNR program and adopt greater cooperation with the private sector through public funding, subsidizing these organizations so that they can catch, sterilize, vaccinate and return them to nature. In support of the Macao SAR Government’s efforts to address the problem, a multi-pronged approach will certainly result in more effective control and a reduction in the number of strays.
I appeal to the Government to set aside some land to create housing for animals away from Coloane Island or residential areas, operated by local protection groups.
*Vice-President of the Macau Sustenance and Economy Alliance