Making a difference in the lives of people is easier said than done. For a fringe community in Queensland, Australia, a significant change in the quality of their life was effected through the efforts of their local Animal Management team.
Ann-Marie Plasto and Tina Martin share their experience in implementing the West Cairns Animal Management Pilot Program from scratch. Ann-Marie a lead officer in the Cairns Regional Council working in its pound facility and with the animals surrounding the community. Tina has over 25 years’ experience in the animal management field and is currently serving as the Animal Management Supervisor for the Cairns Regional Council.
Specifics of their discussion covered:
- An introduction to the general Cairns region, the Cairns Animal Management team and operations, and the suburb of Manoora where the pilot program is targeted to be implemented.
- A rundown of the numerous issues concerning dogs in the community of Manoora which resulted in unwanted breeding, diseases, and high surrender rates.
- An overview of the West Cairns Animal Management Pilot Program – the agencies primarily involved, the social change objectives, and the three particular focus areas.
- The initiative’s goal of tracking movements of the dogs done by conducting regular audits to get accurate numbers and microchipping the dogs to match it with owners and track their movement.
- The project’s intention to provide the dogs with preventative veterinary treatments, particularly Superlorin implants that provided a more convenient way of controlling the breeding of animals.
- The limitations in terms of the budget and the having to take away animals temporarily from their owners which posed challenges in the roll-out of vet treatments.
- The engagement efforts of the program done through one-on-one sessions with the adults during the vet treatments and group activities with children to educate them on the responsibilities that come with owning and caring for pets.
- The many ways that the public housing department was able to assist in ensuring the program’s success.
- Facts and figures that demonstrate the positive outcomes of the programs in addressing the main focus areas, helping the community members with their pain points, and ensuring the welfare of the animals.
- A glimpse into the obstacles they encountered in terms of the community’s mindset, acceptance, and trust, as well as the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
- The wins they gained with breaking the cycle of unwanted breeding of the dogs, fostering trust and relationships with the community, and keeping the program adaptable to changes.
- What the program aims to accomplish and improve moving forward in terms of sustainability, strategies, support, collaboration, and being a model program that can be replicated in other communities.
Questions from the audience were about:
- The prevalence of microchipping in Australia.
- Similar issues for cats.
- Utilizing a mobile vet that made the vet treatment piece more convenient for the dog owners.
- The Animal Management team’s scope of work.
- Availability of veterinary services.
- Getting the buy-in of the government and leaders for the program.
- Long-term social impact of the program on the community, particularly the children.
- Advice for agencies who are looking to implement a similar initiative.
- “I like the idea of how to get into underserved areas.” — Lana
- “How the organization made a positive relationship with the children because getting children involved in caring for animals causes empathy for them and not apathy plus they feel included in the community and not ignored which in turn can build their self-esteem. I also liked how the vet went to the homes !! We need more of the care and not the greed.” — Kelley
- “Very interesting to hear how Australia handles these issues.” — PHYLLIS
- “Excellent Program.” — Robert