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The Effectiveness of Dog Population Management: A Systematic Review

Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
VIER PFOTEN International, 1150 Vienna, Austria
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale”, 64100 Teramo, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1020;
Received: 4 November 2019 / Revised: 15 November 2019 / Accepted: 18 November 2019 / Published: 22 November 2019
Domestic dogs are abundant worldwide—as owned pets, unowned strays, and feral animals. High numbers of free-roaming dogs can be a concern because of the risks they pose to public health, animal welfare, and wildlife. Using a systematic review process, we investigated what the research published to date can tell us about the effectiveness of different dog population management methods. We found that management methods for dog populations have been researched in multiple countries worldwide, using a wide range of indicators to assess method effectiveness. We outline the results and suggest improvements to help guide future dog population management policy.
The worldwide population of domestic dogs is estimated at approximately 700 million, with around 75% classified as “free-roaming”. Where free-roaming dogs exist in high densities, there are significant implications for public health, animal welfare, and wildlife. Approaches to manage dog populations include culling, fertility control, and sheltering. Understanding the effectiveness of each of these interventions is important in guiding future dog population management. We present the results of a systematic review of published studies investigating dog population management, to assess: (1) where and when studies were carried out; (2) what population management methods were used; and (3) what was the effect of the method. We evaluated the reporting quality of the published studies for strength of evidence assessment. The systematic review resulted in a corpus of 39 papers from 15 countries, reporting a wide disparity of approaches and measures of effect. We synthesised the management methods and reported effects. Fertility control was most investigated and had the greatest reported effect on dog population size. Reporting quality was low for power calculations (11%), sample size calculations (11%), and the use of control populations (17%). We provide recommendations for future studies to use common metrics and improve reporting quality, study design, and modelling approaches in order to allow better assessment of the true impact of dog population management. View Full-Text
Keywords: Canis familiaris; free-roaming; stray; population control; catch-neuter-release; sheltering; culling Canis familiaris; free-roaming; stray; population control; catch-neuter-release; sheltering; culling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Smith, L.M.; Hartmann, S.; Munteanu, A.M.; Dalla Villa, P.; Quinnell, R.J.; Collins, L.M. The Effectiveness of Dog Population Management: A Systematic Review. Animals 2019, 9, 1020.

AMA Style

Smith LM, Hartmann S, Munteanu AM, Dalla Villa P, Quinnell RJ, Collins LM. The Effectiveness of Dog Population Management: A Systematic Review. Animals. 2019; 9(12):1020.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Smith, Lauren M., Sabine Hartmann, Alexandru M. Munteanu, Paolo Dalla Villa, Rupert J. Quinnell, and Lisa M. Collins. 2019. "The Effectiveness of Dog Population Management: A Systematic Review" Animals 9, no. 12: 1020.

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