Guam's perennial problem with stray dogs has intersected with illegal trash dumping as the island tries to grapple with dengue concerns.
On Thursday, as various government of Guam personnel went to Dededo and Mangilao neighborhoods and difficult-to-reach houses – as part of an outreach to help people get rid of mosquito breeding receptacles and encourage them to protect their families from mosquito bites – they also encountered illegally dumped trash and stray dogs.
At a meeting Thursday to discuss the island's problem with stray dogs, Mayors' Council of Guam Executive Director Angel Sablan said stray dogs made the job of reaching out to residents in Dededo even more challenging.
Many stray dogs, estimated by Guam Animals In Need to now number more than 25,000, have become a hindrance to outreach efforts to stop mosquitoes from breeding in larger numbers and exposing our residents to the threat of dengue transmission.
"We have this dengue dilemma that we're dealing with," Sablan said. "We have our (Department of Public Health and Social Services) officials going out to different areas at Swamp Road in Dededo, and the difficulty they're seeing ... too many stray dogs that they don't even want to approach the house because the dogs are in the way and ... might come and try to bite them."
The dengue problem has shone an even bigger spotlight on the illegal dumping of old tires, appliances and other bulky household junk that had been strewn in jungle areas and vacant lots, collecting rainwater. These big pieces of junk provide more places for mosquitoes to breed.
While dealing with the dengue information outreach, government personnel also have had to allocate time to haul old appliances from the jungle, diverting resources from more urgent efforts to stop dengue from spreading.
Stray dogs and the illegal dumping of trash are among the problems the mayors' offices have long had the power to act on – via the issuance of citations and tickets.
So far their efforts on trash and strays have lagged.
Now that we have a triple whammy of trash dumping, stray dogs and dengue, perhaps the island's mayors have more motivation to do better with enforcement, even after the dengue problem has – we hope one day soon – dissipated.