Mayors: Enforce pet licensing laws, use fees to help GAIN

BOONIE DOGS: A pack of boonie dogs scavenge for food at a beach park in Yona on Wednesday.  The jungle areas around Guam have been home for many stray animals, most of these area have included public parks and beaches where residents frequent for parties and as a result leave behind scrap food in trash cans which attract stray animals. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

Yigo Mayor Rudy Matanane has asked the nonprofit organization Guam Animals In Need to report how it is using the $150,000 it receives from GovGuam yearly, saying he's trying to gather information to find solutions to the island's growing stray dog population. 

“It’s a lot of money,” Matanane said, but added, “It’s not enough. I think they need more funding.”

Sinajana Mayor Robert Hoffman suggested GAIN make an agreement to use the kennels at the Guam Greyhound Park, which closed in 2008.

“There are a lot of kennels up there that I know are not being used,” Hoffman said. He said perhaps the location can be used as an additional place to hold animals when GAIN is at capacity.

The discussion on how to address Guam's growing stray dog population was a primary topic at the Mayors' Council of Guam meeting on Wednesday. Guam's boonie dog population is estimated to be between 40,000 and 60,000 dogs. 

Pet license fees could help fund GAIN

Matanane said he is working to introduce legislation focused on licensing and microchipping pets.

Licensing of pets is the main revenue in other jurisdictions for organizations like GAIN, Chalan Pago Mayor Jessy Gogue said.

“The fact that we have had on the books for more than 20 years a mandatory licensing program that has never been implemented (means) we are failing,” he said. “We, the government of Guam, are failing.”

“It’s great that we talk about it, but when are we going to get the administration to make it happen?” Gogue asked, adding that the current administration is “supportive” of the mayor’s efforts to reduce the number of stray dogs.

“There has to be some effort to look holistically at the stray dog issue,” he said.

Spay and neuter programs only work if they’re fully funded

According to Gogue, GAIN has said it only euthanizes dogs that are very ill or deemed “unadoptable.” If the shelter lacks space, dogs that were captured and brought to GAIN may be released.

“And sometimes they release them without neutering or spaying them because they do not have the funds,” Gogue said. “This is a vicious, vicious cycle.”

Matanane implored the mayors to help come up with a plan together to address the issue.

Local residents have complained to mayors that these feral dogs have chased and even bitten children and joggers. However, a lack of dog catchers at the Department of Agriculture and a lack of room at the shelter impede any real progress in controlling the growth of the island's stray animal population. 

“We really need dog cages,” said Tamuning Mayor Louise Rivera, “So we have reached out to them.”

Hoffman asked the mayors take inventory of their dog traps and cages.