Innovation and collaboration mark the Dog Population Management Conference

The first week of September marked an important moment in the effort to end the needless suffering of dogs all over the world, as the 1st Dog Population Management (DPM) Conference was held in York, United Kingdom from Sept 5th through the 7th

The conference was conducted to highlight global efforts in the burgeoning field of dog population management and DPM Conference participants arrived from around the globe, representing a variety of sectors. Attendees included wildlife ecologists, ethologists, epidemiology and public health experts, veterinarians and animal welfare organizations from 36 countries.

Hosted in the offices of The Food and Environment Research Agency;  the support of organizations such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) point to increasing recognition that dog population management is a global, interdisciplinary effort.

As IFAW’s Director for the Companion Animal Program,  I sat on the Steering Committee to help guide conference planning and implementation. I also chaired a session that covered topics from rabies to dog ownership practices.

Conference attendees shared data, ideas, and initiatives that ranged from methods of non-surgical sterilization, to zoonoses and human attitudes towards dogs.  It was wonderful to hear case studies of project efforts from countries around the globe - from Canada, to Chile, to South Africa and Sri Lanka. A full conference program can be viewed here.

It was with great pleasure that I was able to present, along with John Friar of Wise Monkey Foundation, a system that will allow IFAW to collect data, in real-time, from out our community dog and cat projects.

I shared how this system will allow for a flexible, but scientific, approach to capturing the manner in which IFAW’s dog and cat interventions are having a positive impact the communities in which we work.  And while it is still in its pilot phase, IFAW was excited to share with other conference attendees our commitment to developing collaborations that are technologically and scientifically innovative.

In addition, Companion Animals Program Officer, Hanna Lentz, had the opportunity to present Adequate Guardianship as one of the key concepts IFAW’s Companion Animal Program uses to guide our efforts aimed at ending the suffering of companion animals around the world. This concept provides a framework that defines our commitment to animal welfare and the health and well-being of each individual dog and cat.

Adequate Guardianship means that our ultimate success is not defined by numbers alone--how many surgeries are conducted or vaccines distributed--but by whether all of our hard work and commitment is make lasting changes for animals.

And that commitment to seeing dogs healthy, happy, and cared for now and in the future was one that not only resonated in IFAW’s presentations, but in that of many other delegates as well.  IFAW is part of the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM), whose member organizations work together to offer guidance and best practices based on the best available data and welfare principals.

IFAW was proud to lead an ICAM-branded workshop that guided conference participants through the first two stages of the ICAM humane dog population management methodology-- initial data collection and assessment.  Participants from IFAW, Humane Society International and World Society for the Protection of Animals) co-facilitated the workshop with more than 50 participants.

Tackling the humane management of dog populations and working to end the suffering of dogs around the world is a task that will undoubtedly require the commitment of individuals, institutions, governments, and non-governmental organizations from a variety of sectors and with many areas of expertise.

At this groundbreaking conference it became clear that now more than ever we are on the road towards innovation and collaboration, and that together we can bring about lasting change for animals. IFAW was a proud partner, organizer, and participant of the 1st International Conference on Dog Population Management, and we look forward to supporting such important initiatives for many years to come.  


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters