Humane Community Development
Many people live in harmony with their companion animals, but around the world there are communities that struggle to overcome the conflicts they face with dogs and cats. Sometimes ordinary dog or cat behaviour is considered a public nuisance, and some communities live in fear of attacks or health threats from roaming dogs.
Too often communities resort to inhumane dog culls or mass sheltering in sub-standard facilities in response to these concerns, but these responses do nothing to alleviate the long-term problems.
In fact, impulsive reactions and attempts to implement a “quick-fix” to issues like dog attacks and disease outbreaks only perpetuate a dangerous cycle, where even temporary relief gives way to new and continued threats. Not only is this bad for people, it results in dogs and cats suffering cruel confinement or brutal deaths. The inhumane treatment of dogs and cats is never a solution to a community’s problems with animals.
IFAW’s Humane Community Development Program helps communities find ways to manage their dog populations humanely and sustainably. We engage a broad group of stakeholders in each community and bring them together for facilitated participatory workshop sessions. Through these workshops we help community members develop a shared understanding of their problems and possible solutions, and then develop collaborative efforts to implement long-term, sustainable management plans.
Also a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, our HCD workshops are grounded in participatory methods that acknowledge every community has unique needs and resources, and value community knowledge and input. These methods have already proven successful in the development and conservation sectors.
Because of our unique approach, The United Nations Development Program invited IFAW to advise six separate municipalities in Bosnia that had identified dogs as a human security threat. Vets Without Borders – Latin America also asked for our advice for a community in Chile where roaming dogs contribute to the high incidence of hydatid disease in the human population. We are now piloting our facilitated, participatory process with these communities.
These partnerships focus on empowering the community to generate momentum and culturally appropriate solutions, based on the community’s own goals for animal welfare and public safety. We help community’s bridge practical solutions with animal welfare, recognizing that caring for animals is a key component in caring for communities.