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Animals 2014, 4(4), 599-611; doi:10.3390/ani4040599

Tourists’ Perceptions of the Free-Roaming Dog Population in Samoa

1
Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Domestic Animal Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7054, Uppsala 75007, Sweden
2
Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
3
Animal Welfare and Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Natural Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology, Private Bag 92025, Auckland 1025, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 June 2014 / Revised: 8 September 2014 / Accepted: 12 September 2014 / Published: 29 September 2014
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Simple Summary

For travelers, the way in which people in other nations interact with animals may be different to that in their home nation. This research explores how the treatment of dogs impacted upon the holiday experiences of tourists visiting a developing island nation. In general, and where tourists encountered dogs, their treatment was perceived as less positive than in their home country and had a negative impact upon the holiday experience. Although it is important to recognize that the local population will have a different worldview, tourists felt that the dog population required more effective management and were most supportive of techniques that were non-lethal and humane.

Abstract

A study was undertaken to establish how visiting tourists to Samoa perceived free-roaming dogs (Canis familiaris) and their management, additionally some factors that influence their perceptions were assessed. Questionnaires were administered to 281 tourists across Samoa over 5 weeks. Free-roaming dogs were seen by 98.2% (n = 269/274) of respondents, with 64.9% (n = 137/211) reporting that their presence had a negative effect on overall holiday experience. Respondents staying in the Apia (capital city) area were more likely to consider dogs a problem (p < 0.0001), and there was a significant association between whether the respondent owned a dog and if they thought dogs were a nuisance in Samoa (p < 0.003). Forty-four percent (20/89) of non-dog owners agreed that dogs were a nuisance compared to 22% (80/182) of dog owners. The majority felt that dogs required better control and management in Samoa (81%, n = 222) and that there were too many “stray” dogs (67.9%, n = 188). More respondents were negatively affected by the dogs’ presence (64.9%, 137/211), and felt that the dogs made their holiday worse, than respondents that felt the dogs’ presence improved their holiday experience (35.1%, 74/211). Most respondents stated that the dogs had a low impact (one to three; 68%, 187/275) on their stay in Samoa, whilst 24% (65/275) and 8% (23/275) stated they had a medium or high impact, respectively, on their stay. Respondents showed strong support for humane population management. Free-roaming dogs present a complex problem for Samoa and for its tourism industry in particular. The findings of this study further support the need for more discussion and action about the provision of veterinary services and population management for dogs in Samoa. It also provides information complementing an earlier study of the attitudes of local Samoans. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; developing nation; dog; free-roaming; population management; tourism animal welfare; developing nation; dog; free-roaming; population management; tourism
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Beckman, M.; Hill, K.E.; Farnworth, M.J.; Bolwell, C.F.; Bridges, J.; Acke, E. Tourists’ Perceptions of the Free-Roaming Dog Population in Samoa. Animals 2014, 4, 599-611.

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