Free-roaming domestic dog ecology: Population size and management in Soroti City
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Free-roaming dogs pose a public health threat. They are involved in the transmission of diseases to humans, livestock and wildlife. These dogs interact with many people, other dogs, and animals and are the most commonly implicated in dog-bite human cases. This study set out to determine the number of these dogs in Soroti City and to examine whether dog owners’ management practices are linked to the roaming behavior. A modified capture-recapture technique was used to estimate the population size of the dogs, and a household survey carried out about the dog management practices. One hundred twenty four dogs were captured and marked, and 61 dog owners questioned on how they care for their dogs in terms of feeding, shelter and some veterinary care aspects. The mean number of free-roaming dogs in this area was estimated at 153 (95% CI ± 13) in a square kilometer. The number of captured and marked dogs was close to the estimated number of dogs implying that most of the free roaming dogs in the city are owned and part of the accessible population. There wasn’t enough evidence to link the dog’s characteristics (age, sex, breed, size and body condition score) to roaming behavior. There was also insufficient evidence to link food provision, rabies vaccination, sterilization to roaming behavior. Dogs that were provided more frequent meals however were less likely to roam than dogs provided food fewer times in a day. The roaming behavior of the dogs could be reduced if dog owners provided the dogs with food more frequently throughout the day. The nutritional quality and quantity of the food should also be adequate to meet the dogs’ requirement.