If you didn’t already know, the Greater Amman Municipality (referred to as GAM or Amaneh) is trying to control the stray dog population by shooting them. I, like many people in the Jordanian capital, witnessed one of their shooting sprees personally a couple of weeks ago. It was heartbreaking to say the least and I knew I couldn’t let it slip under the radar. I did everything I could to find someone at Greater Amman Municipality to speak to about this horrific daily massacre of the street dog population. After less than 24 hours, I was given contact information of the woman in charge of Vector Control (insects) and Animal Welfare at GAM, Engineer Shtoura Mahmoud Al-Adwan. She told me that her department had been working extremely hard for the past 5+ years in changing the inhumane shooting method to a humane method of ABC (animal birth control), or also commonly referred to as TNR (trap-neuter-return). She knew that actions speak louder than words, so she invited me the next week to see the GAM Animal Welfare Center and witness an event to train local veterinarians on the ABC method. I willingly accepted because I needed answers and most importantly, I needed hope that the animal cruelty on behalf of the Amman government would end.
First of all, let me give you some background on what exactly ABC/TNR is.
In theory, a female can have up to three litters in a year with an average litter size of seven puppies. One female and her babies can theoretically create 67,000 puppies in six years (source). Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective way to reduce the stray animal population. It relies on the sterilization (neuter/spay) of dogs so that they are unable to breed, leading to a gradual decline in numbers.
Trap in a humane way free-roaming dogs and transport them to an animal welfare center where they are sterilized.
Neuter or spay: A surgical sterilization process that removes the reproductive organs of the dog (testicles of males or ovaries and uterus of females ) so that it can no longer reproduce. It is a quick procedure where the animal is under general anesthesia. The recovery period is only a few days. The animal will also receive vaccinations (including rabies) and will be tagged so it will not be trapped again.
Return: After full recovery (up to one week) the animal is released to their original capture site.
What Amman is trying to do to control the stray dog population
As I said, the Greater Amman Municipality is currently, and always has been, trying to control the dog population by shooting (to kill). This quick-fix method is proven to do nothing long-term to reduce the population of strays and the Department of Vector Control & Animal Welfare knows this! You can even find a study online they carried out alongside the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about Animal Birth Control in Amman.
If GAM knows that it isn’t the way to control the amount of strays wandering the neighborhoods of Amman, then why are they doing it? According to them, it is what the people want because the “culture” and “traditions” (let’s not get into religion) cause people to not accept dogs. They see them as vicious and dirty and they want them gone instantly. So when Amaneh gets a call about a dog, they send out their snipers to go shoot it. No questions asked. Give the people what they want right?
Because of this majority mentality among Amman’s citizen of not accepting dogs, Amaneh has had a LOT of pushback to get the ABC/TNR program approved and funded. They ask, “Why are we building a center for animals to be treated? Why aren’t we building a hospital for humans instead?” Both should be done of course, but it hasn’t proved easy to get support both from decision makers and the general public for ABC and establishing the Animal Welfare Center. That was until the royalty stepped in, Her Highness Princess Alia to be exact.
Greater Amman Municipality Animal Care Center
In 2011, the Animal Care Center was established under the royal patronage of HRH Princess Alia Bint Hussein and the Princess Alia Foundation. This is the center I personally visited to find out more about what GAM is doing to END the inhumane shooting of dogs.
When I arrived, I was given a tour of the facilities, which included numerous operating rooms, pharmacies, kennels for captured dogs, a classroom for training lectures and a large plantation of trees, which they hope one day to turn into a public park where citizens can come to walk their dogs. Dog owners are prohibited from entering any park in Amman with their dog, even if it is leashed. The center, as you can see in photos below, is not completely done, but since its founding in 2011, it HAS made progress.
From the facilities, it is obvious that the Department of Vector Control & Animal Welfare IS trying to make a change. And it became even more obvious as the day I went on the tour they were holding a spay and neuter training clinic for veterinarians from across Amman. During the training event, the vets sterilized and vaccinated 20 dogs stray dogs to then be tagged and released back to their capture site.
The Future of Amman’s ABC Program
Though the ABC program is in its initial phase, there is a still a long way to go. The current legislation in Amman allows for the shooting of stray dogs and there are no real laws in place to protect animals that are not pets. And even the laws that exist against pet animal cruelty are not enforced. Because of this, the Department of Vector Control & Animal Welfare is working hard on passing legislation to end not only the shooting of dogs to control the stray population, but to also implement more animal protection laws. Their hope is their practice of shooting dogs will become illegal and will be fully replaced with ABC as of third-quarter 2018. Here is to hoping it will come much sooner than that!
How You Can Get Involved
- Write to The Greater Amman Municipality directly via Facebook, give them a call (064633812), email them (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit them in Ras Al-Ain (directions here) and protest about their inhumane animal control procedures.
- If you are a journalist, or know one, cover a story about the inhumane shooting practice currently in place and the benefits of ABC.
- If you are an expat, write to your embassy.
- Spread the word, the Canaan street dog is something to be PROUD of