Not enough animal control officers to roundup stray dogs

The number of stray animals on island is on the rise. (PNC file photo)

Guam – In 2017 it was estimated that the stray dog population was at 25,000. That’s equivalent to one stray dog for every seven Guam residents. But there are only three animal control officers tasked with rounding them up.

For years, the lack of resources at the Department of Agriculture hampered efforts to curb the island’s stray dog population.

Agriculture Director Chelsa Muna-Brecht said, “Well my perception, at least on the part of the Department of Agriculture, it has been a funding issue. We have one animal control officer who has been an Animal Control Officer 1 for over 11 years. If there were adequate funding provided, he should have been promoted at least nine years ago.”

Muna-Brecht said agriculture is taking steps to address the issue. The department is now working with Guam Animals In Need (GAIN) in applying for a federal grant that provides funding for addressing invasive species.

Muna-Brecht said that the U.S. Department of Interior provided funding last year to America Samoa for an invasive species eradication.

She said that agriculture is also working with the governor’s office and the legislature to provide funding in the fy 2020 budget for animal control officers.

“There are multiple channels for approach, but one of them is spay and neutering which is something GAIN is in strong support of. But they also recognize not all animals are savable or redeemable, there are dogs that just have to be put down,” Muna-Brecht said.

She said the approach at this time is to either neuter the dog and place for adoption, neuter the dogs and released back into the community, or to euthanize the animal.

Currently, there is a three day waiting period before putting an animal down, Muna-Brecht said they are working on revisiting this aspect of the law.

Muna-Brecht said that they will have a meeting on June 8 to take a look at applicable animal laws and identify which ones need to be updated, amended, or repealed. The department will also take a look at its current fines and fees.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.