Some Covid “collateral” damage can be seen in the long run. One of these is well present in what is a paradise for tourists, the Fiji Islands, an archipelago made up of more than 320 islets in the Pacific Ocean.
With the suspension of neutering services due to the pandemic, the stray dog population has grown dramatically. The closed borders have prevented voluntary vets from arriving from abroad, many inhabitants have abandoned their dogs on the street, others let them circulate freely without any attention until reaching, in the capital, Suva alone, the 30,000 dogs in freedom.
The animals roam in search of food and raise their litters in the suburbs, during the day they are chased away because they carry diseases, some seem to have attacked children. On the university campus at night they set traps, where two to three dogs regularly end up. The shelters are overwhelmed with pups and adults.
On the other side of the island, in Viti Levu, the situation is just as dire. The Greater Good Foundation (GGF) of Lautoka houses more than 200 dogs in an open sanctuary. Many dogs who arrived there were abused, rescued from the street, beaten, driven away, run over. The pig hunters cut off their ears and tails with knives or scissors for use in hunting and the wounds they sustain are never treated, they are left in pain and without food. Those who collaborate with the capture and sterilization programs argue that the attacks of the dogs are due precisely to this treatment that is reserved for them, to the violence suffered.
The only way forward is that of carpet sterilization and release into the territory, but it will take years to decrease the number. Meanwhile, resources are also scarce, 47 kg of rice and legumes are consumed in the sanctuary every day. The shelter has no government funding or corporate partners, it remains open through donations. If it were forced to close the dogs they would return to the streets, increasing the risk to the community and to their own lives.
There Greater Good Foundation called on the Fijian government to implement a policy of free sterilization of pets on all islands.
According to the spokesman, Mohammed Khan, this method has worked in many countries, in Nadi some veterinarians from the USA, in collaboration with the PASH clinic in Nadi and the Ministry of Agriculture have offered a free sterilization service which has seen people queuing for days. This is the way to go and not the one put into practice by some municipalities who pay workers to trap and kill dogs on the street during the night. Fifteen years ago, more than 850 dogs were poisoned in Lautoka Town in three days. All this must not be repeated.
In short, there is a need for help for men and dogs in what people would like to continue to see and live as a paradise for the beauty of its sea and its nature and not as hell where animals and people fight for their lives. .