Public drop-off of stray animals to be limited

Bill 299-35 seeks to assist the Department of Agriculture with their efforts to begin reducing the stray animal population on Guam. (PNC photo)

Following a request by the Guam Department of Agriculture, Guam Animals in Need will limit non-emergency public drop-offs of animals on Tuesdays, beginning Aug. 20 and lasting through September.

Unless an emergency, animals coming from the general public will be asked to be held for another 24-48 hours before being turned in to GAIN.

Chelsa Muna-Brecht, director of the Guam Department of Agriculture, said the temporary measure is an effort to provide more kennels for mayors and Animal Control, to respond to an increase in animal control calls at the start of the school year.

She told the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57 that GAIN only has limited capacity and sometimes animal control officers round up to 11 dogs a day.

She added that her department is applying for a grant with the Department of Interior to get funds to address the issue. She said that stray dogs may be considered an “invasive specie” and may get consideration for funding mitigation from DOI.

GAIN President Cyrus Luhr also told the Patti Arroyo show that GAIN is planning to work with the Department of Corrections to have inmates help train stray dogs and teach them skills that would make the dogs more valuable in the commercial market.

“We’re receiving more complaints about stray dogs making it difficult for school children to walk to, or stand at, their appropriate bus stops. The stray animal problem is a crisis, and it’s getting worse. By collaborating with GAIN, we’re managing the inflow of animals on Tuesdays in order to ensure the worst problem cases are addressed,” Muna-Brecht said.

She added: “But we still struggle with limited resources, which prevents us from properly responding to calls from the public. We need to properly support a long-term solution.”

The Yigo animal shelter is a government of Guam facility, and the island’s only animal shelter. Its operations are long-term subcontracted to GAIN, a non-profit animal welfare organization.

“The Yigo shelter is 50 years old, but Guam’s dog population has increased six-fold since it was built. The shelter was never designed to handle an island with this many stray animals,” said Alison Hadley, executive director of GAIN.

“Foster families and adopters are saving lives, but they are overtaxed. Limiting intakes is a short-term, band-aid solution. Long-term, the animal shelter must expand to meet community needs, and we need an island-wide government spay and neuter program,” she added.

While non-emergency public drop-offs will not be accepted on Tuesdays, the shelter will remain open for volunteers and adopters. Normal operations will continue on all other days.

GAIN is open 365 days a year, and is located next to the Yigo gym.