MARKING STREET ANIMALS.
Our Samui based TNR program, is getting bigger and bigger each month- a few times we have had the situation of when we open the animal, we find it has already been sterilized! This is not only a waste of time and money, but also stressful and unessential for the animal.
So what is the best way to identify street dogs and cats who have been sterilized?
We fully researched the topic before making our choice, we thought it would be good to share with the wider community also.
For owned dogs micro-chipping is a great way to keep record of the animal and what procedures it has undergone, where it lives etc. However this is not ideal for street dogs/cats as you need to catch and scan the animal, the cost is also prohibitive as the cheapest we can get one for is 100thb ($5aud) then it still needs to be inserted, adding to the total cost.
Tattooing is the current industry standard used by most vets and animal welfare groups in Thailand, however like micro-chips the animal must be caught to read the tattoo, they can also fade over time, you need a tattoo machine and someone at each event that can use it.
Freeze branding is used mostly in america for identification of hunting dogs, some groups working on sterilization without anesthetic like this method as the dog does not need to under to have the procedure and it can be easily seen from a distance. We decided against it as you need to have liquid nitrogen or dry ice at the event, and nobody we know that can teach us the procedure.
Ear tags were our favorite option for a little while as they are easily seen from a distance, they are cheap and easy to buy, you need no special training to administer and animal does not need to be under. However with further research we discovered that the animals find them annoying and scratch at them, leading to issues of infection they can also get caught and do damage to the ear, which if untreated can cause serious complications.
We eventually settled on Ear Nicking as we knew vets who could train us in the procedure, the tools are easily available in Thailand, its easy to see from a distance, meaning animals do not need to be caught to read, we tested it at our most recent event and it went very smoothly, the ear nicks were done while animals were under just prior to the sterilization surgery, the nicks were cauterized with heat which prevented any bleeding, none of the animals seemed to have a problem with the procedure, and were not scratching or worrying at the wounds.