The article appeared in today's paper.
Government doing nothing about stray dogsThe tone of the article is a bit more aggressive than I would have liked, but the government really isn't doing anything to solve this problem. It is infuriating when I hear a government official say we don't have the money to do that, so we're not going to even try.
WEDNESDAY, 19 AUGUST 2009
BY RICHELLE ANN P. AGPOON - FOR VARIETY
THE government is not doing anything to control stray dogs or remove “roadkill,” Beautify CNMI executive officer Angelo Villagomez said yesterday.
“It is outrageous that the government with all its resources and $150 million annual budget would pass its responsibilities off onto community members and voters,” he said.
Many people, he added, are disturbed by stray dogs that travel in groups and loiter around the island, harming children and tourists and ripping off garbage bags when looking for food.
The stray dogs are a “general nuisance” to the public, he said.
In an earlier interview, Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said the government does not have an immediate solution to the problem of stray dogs due to lack of funds.
He said the Saipan mayor’s office should be the one to address the problem which was also referred to the Division of Environmental Quality and the Department of Public Safety.
DEQ told this reporter that the issue has not reached its office.
Villagomez said it is not the responsibility of community organizations to remove dead animals from public roads.
The non-government group Pet Assistance and Welfare Services, or PAWS, helps find homes for dogs, but does not remove roadkill, he added.
PAWS also provides food, shelter and medicine to dogs, and this is costly, Villagomez said.
“Keep in mind that PAWS is a cash-strapped, volunteer-driven non-profit organization made up of people who volunteer their free time to help these needy animals, the stray dogs,” he said.
Villagomez believes that the mayor should address the island’s stray dog problem while DPS should be responsible for removing dead animals from public roads.
“If the mayor was doing his job and picking up stray dogs, there wouldn’t be such a large dead dog problem, as the roving packs of dogs would be safely off the streets,” he said.
He noted that the mayor of Tinian was able to build a kennel for less than $10,000.
The mayor of Tinian was able to end their stray dog problem, Villagomez said.
In life, no matter what you end up doing, there is never enough money. Never. School teachers don't get enough money from the government to pay for school supplies or photo copies for handouts. Do they just say they're not going to teach the children because they don't have enough money? Of course not! They find creative ways to manage their classroom. They ask for donations. They spend their own money.
If the government, and mostly I'm referring to the Mayor of Saipan here, wanted to solve this problem, they'd figure something out. They'd figure out a creative way to solve the problem.
And we need to look no further than Tinian to find a model that works.
Dr. Tom Arkle left a comment on the Marianas Variety website that describes the Tinian program:
Angelo is 100 percent correct. Saipan Mayor simply does not want his people to do any work. Tinian implemented a 25 page dog control regulation, formed a small group (THREE people) from its own workforce, TRAINED them, built our own (temporary) kennel (for $4,000), built our own humane traps, built our own "catch" nets, ordered citation booklets, ordered dog tags and collars, printed pamphlets, enlisted citizen assistance, coverted a pickup to mobil dog catcher/kennel truck - and then spent 8 hours a day in the community. ALL THIS for around $8,000 INCLUDING PAYING a veterinarian to come to Tinian every week to humanely euthanize those animals not suited for adoption (strays and sick). In six months we took 600 dogs OFF the streets, licensed 400 more, issued several citations AND got the public to support the program and even help turn in unwanted dogs. We took it to the schools and directly to dog owners. IT WORKED!!!!!! WHY not on Saipan - especially when you have MONEY - $75K in fact. It all boild down to the BOSS - the MAYOR - he just doesn't want to do it! START SMALL - you don't need the HILTON - get the OBVIOUS dogs FIRST!1000 dogs in 6 months with less than $10,000? That sounds like something I'd like to do here.