Domestic dogs are one of the most invasive species on the planet with a worldwide population exceeding 1 billion. They threaten 188 wildlife species and are the direct cause of more than 11 recent extinctions. Free-roaming dog packs are most common in poverty-stricken areas that lack accessible animal welfare programs and veterinary care.
In 2019, over 90 percent of the sites monitored on the Pine Ridge Reservation had free-roaming dogs, despite the Oglala Sioux Tribe initiating stray dog roundups and lethal control, animal rescues transporting over 5,000 dogs to outside shelters within a five-year span, and a low-cost spay and neutering program. There is also a severe lack of funding and only one animal control officer. It is important to develop effective, efficient, and ethical management decisions for free-roaming dogs in areas with limited funding for dog population control.
Shunka Kola: A Rez-Dog Project uses strategic planning, community member input, and ecological modeling to determine culturally appropriate methods to address the problem of dog overpopulation on the Pine Ridge Reservation. These methods will then be taught to high school students and undergraduate students in tribal schools. Community meetings with stakeholders will be held to discuss and plan the implementation of effective, efficient, and ethical animal control strategies on the Pine Ridge reservation.
U.S. taxpayers spend over $2 billion annually on dog population control. Although, in many places across the globe, most of the people live in poverty and drawing financial resources in the form of taxes becomes infeasible and unethical. Shunka Kola can be a model to allocate funding for animal control programs both in areas of affluence and poverty.
Team Lead Camille Griffith is a Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Fellow and a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), the Society of the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), and The Wildlife Society (TWS)
Shunka Kola seeks:
Support from wild-life management experts with experience working in low-resource settings
Connections to like-minded philanthropies and funders to help sustain rez-dog management programming on the Pine Ridge Reservation
Connections to public health experts to help in the creation and analysis of occupancy and abundance modeling, community surveys, and individual based modeling.