Community perspectives are rarely sought or integrated into dog management policy and practice. Dog management in remote communities in Australia has focused on reducing the number of dogs, which is often implemented by visiting veterinarians, despite widely-held opinions that fly-in-fly-out services provide only temporary solutions. We conducted participatory research in a group of remote communities in northern Australia to explore how dog-related problems arise and are managed, and explain their impacts from a One Health perspective. Over the course of a year, 53 residents from a range of backgrounds contributed through in-depth interviews with key community service providers, and informal semi-structured discussions with community residents. Free-roaming dogs have broader impacts on canine and human health than previously documented. Dog-keeping norms that enable free-roaming can enhance human and dog wellbeing and intra-family connectivity. This can also cause disengagement and conflict with other residents, leading to resentment and occasionally violence towards dogs. Dog-related problems are underpinned by constraints associated with remote-living, governance and differing sociocultural norms. Focusing on dog population reduction detracts from the welfare benefits and sociocultural value of free-roaming dogs and undermines community-determined management that can overcome constraints to support local values and co-promote canine and human wellbeing.
Brookes, V. J., Ward, M. P., Rock, M., & Degeling, C. (2020). One Health promotion and the politics of dog management in remote, northern Australian communities. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-9. . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69316-0