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2024 Update on Stray Dogs in Mauritius: Campaigns, Regulations, Challenges and Adoption

dogs in mauritius

As you know, Mauritius has an issue with stray dogs, commonly referred here as “Maurichiens”. The issue has prompted the Mauritius Society for Animal Welfare (MSAW) to launch a “Free Mass Sterilization Campaign” in collaboration with the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security since September 2015. Despite their efforts, the problem persists, and alternative measures are being considered. This article explores the current situation of street dogs in Mauritius, the sterilization campaign, the delayed dog registration law, the animal abuse issue and potential solutions for responsible adoption. 

The number of stray dogs in Mauritius

The last report dates back to 2013, estimating 75,000 stray dogs. A recent Master Plan by the Ministry of Agro-Industry, approved by the Council of Ministers, aims to conduct a new census to determine the current number of stray dogs. The 2013 figure includes dogs born as strays, those left to roam by owners, and cases of abandonment, all punishable by law. 

Sterilization campaigns for street dogs in Mauritius

MSAW had introduced a “voucher” system facilitating free sterilization for dog owners. Upon contacting MSAW, owners receive a “voucher” within 48 hours, enabling them to have their dogs sterilized by a private veterinarian at MSAW’s expense. This initiative marks a significant collaboration between the public and private sectors, resulting in over 2,500 sterilizations in the past six months. However, despite issuing 5,000 vouchers, only half were utilized by responsible owners.

A “Catch and Neuter Release” program, inspired by successful implementations in the Netherlands and India, has also been authorized in Mauritius in 2022. Stray dogs are captured, sterilized, and then returned to their environment, addressing the issue of stray dog proliferation. Post-sterilization, not all dogs are released; some, due to health or behavioral concerns, are either cared for by MSAW or put up for adoption. Additionally, dogs are equipped with a microchip for geolocation and an ear tag for easy identification.

However, according to sources interviewed by lexpress.mu in a recent article, the sterilization rate remains low compared to the number of stray dogs, primarily due to the focus on owned dogs rather than those roaming the streets. 


Dogs registration law

The long-awaited dog registration law, intended to hold dog owners accountable, is yet to be proclaimed. Registration, along with microchipping, is seen as crucial for identifying and tracing dogs. A proposed “Pet Management System” aims to create a comprehensive database of dog owners, facilitating efficient tracking and responsible ownership. Despite the delay in making this law mandatory, there is widespread support for its implementation from both officials and non-governmental organizations.

Animal abuse

The MSAW has been granted authorized officer powers under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act, dealing with around 20 reported animal abuse cases monthly. Common mistreatment involves leaving dogs exposed on roofs, with extreme cases including hanging, stabbing, or intentional vehicular harm. MSAW, with new legal provisions, now has the authority to inspect and issue “Notices to Comply,” requiring owners to improve conditions. Penalties for animal abuse have been heightened, with fines up to Rs 500,000 and imprisonment up to 10 years. Witnesses can report cruelty via MSAW’s website, hotline (55091622), or contact the police. 

Adopting street dogs in Mauritius

To incentivize adoption, which can help solve the issue, discussions are underway regarding a Rs 10,000 deduction for individuals adopting a dog. The MSAW and other NGOs actively promotes the adoption of street dogs, offering spayed, vaccinated, and microchipped pets ready for a new home. Here are a few shelters you can check if you are interested to bring a new family member back home: 

You may also fall in love with a dog on the street or on the beach.  That is sometimes the case of tourists visiting Mauritius who make the news for having developed a fondness for street dogs and raised funds to bring them home. Organizations like Louspoir assist in repatriating street dogs to France, where they find new adoptive families. 

Aspiring adopters are advised to ensure that a street dog is genuinely stray before taking it in. A veterinary check-up is essential, considering the potential challenges such as unknown medical history and diseases common among street dogs. Indie dogs are hardy and are more resistant to diseases than pedigrees; but they still need regular medical attention.

When considering adopting a puppy, it’s important to keep in mind that they should ideally not be separated from their mother until they reach 8 to 12 weeks of age. Additionally, if a dog exhibits aggressive behavior or is part of an established pack, it is likely accustomed to street life and may not thrive as a domesticated house pet.

Adopting a street dog requires patience and careful consideration. It’s crucial to assess the dog’s health, behavior, and socialization. Potential adopters are encouraged to interact regularly, gaining the trust of the dog before attempting to bring them home. 

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