The Saipan’s Mayors Office catches an average of 10 dogs a day through its Dog Control Program, which only shows that the island’s stray animal problem is far from over.
The Saipan Tribune interviewed Dog Control Program staff Vincent Deleon Guerrero and Isaiah Lizama last week and the two confirmed that there are still a lot of stray dogs out there.
Deleon Guerrero said the most “infested” part of Saipan is Chalan Kanoa, especially the beach near Sugar Dock, where owners abandon their dogs.
Even during slow days, Lizama said they still catch two to three stray dogs a day.
Henry Hofschenider, Saipan Mayor Donald Flores’ adviser, said stray dogs continue to be a problem on the island and he encourages residents to call the program’s hotline at 888-3241 if they see any stray dogs in their area.
Deleon Guerrero and Guerrero are also asking community members to stop playing with the traps they set for these animals.
More often than not, they said, when they return a couple of hours after setting up a trap, they would find it already sprung, or worse, vandalized by people who just “have nothing else to do.”
The Dog Control Program makes rounds of villages daily to catch stray dogs. Recently, Deleon Guerrero and Lizama said they’ve also started making rounds in the evenings because that’s the time when dogs are really active, scavenging for food.
The two reminded dog owners that the program does not discriminate between dogs with tags or no tags. As long as they find these dogs unleashed, they will immediately catch them and bring them to the dog pound.
The kennel in Lower Base, Hofschneider said, can accommodate as much as 50 animals.
Of the 50 or animals they catch, Deleon Guerrero and Lizama said that only about 10 to 15 are ultimately claimed. Owners only have five days to claim their pets. Unclaimed animals are sent to the Paradise Veterinary Clinic to be euthanized.
An animal-lover himself, Deleon Guerrero said he feels sad about the dogs being put down but he would rather have them euthanized than see them suffer without adequate shelter, food, and a responsible owner to care for them.
Those who do claim their dogs pay a penalty for having an unleashed pet. Hofschneider said the first penalty is $16 but the mayor’s office charges higher penalties of $32 and $47 for second and third offenses, respectively.
Pet owners also have to pay the Dog Control Program $5 for each day their dog is at the dog pound.
Based on a survey conducted by the Northern Marianas College-CREES program in 2010, Saipan had an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 stray animals.
The alarming number of strays dogs forced the hand of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation to enact Saipan Local Law 9-12, which created the Dog Control Program under the Saipan Mayor’s Office in 2011.