Monday, March 8, 2010

Northern Territory still calling to kill Maningrida's "stray" dogs

Late last year, a young man was killed by a pack of loose dogs in Maningrida, a small town located in the Northern Territory of Australia. I wrote about the aboriginal culture as it pertains to dogs in Maningrida and ways officials might approach the issue of loose dogs.

Someone recently left a comment accusing me of "reverse racism". I find this interesting. Aborigines in Australia have been horrible oppressed. For more than one hundred years, they were considered unfit to be parents and their children forcibly removed to become, you know, white and elite (but hey, white Australians said sorry!). They were not considered real Australians (oh, the arrogance!) until the late 20th century and couldn't vote in parliamentary elections until the 60/70s. Check out this indigenous person statistical timeline - in every meaningful way, today in the 21st century, aboriginal people in Australia are not doing well.

To that commenter and to anyone else who thinks "reverse racism" is as devastating and pervasive as racism against people of color or white privilege please read The Myth of Reverse Racism. It is sort of like "reverse sexism". Until whites (men, particularly) have to endure hundreds to thousands of years of oppression, misogyny, murder based on skin tone or gender, slavery, second class status, etc. ad naseum, methinks folks should really back off the whole "you are a reverse racist". I know it might be hard. :)

Okay, back to Maningrida and its dog problem. The Northern Territory Opposition leader is calling for a cull.
For added fear-mongering, ABC Local news added a nice photo of a slathering dog.

Now, is there a local dog problem in Maningrida? Yes, I imagine there is, as it generally becomes a problem when there isn't an infrastructure in place to assess the medical needs of the humans, let alone the nonhumans. Is the problem so severe that an outright wholesale slaughter of stray, resident, pet dogs is the answer? No. I think that is arrogant and pointless. It will not solve the fundamental issue. It is like breed specific legislation - addressing a symptom, not the disease.

Culls only work when you eliminate all animals capable of reproducing. They only work when you prevent people from acquiring intact animals. And they only work if you eliminate the reproductive abilities of all the resident animals.

The fact remains that there are people in Maningrida who see dogs differently than many of us reading this blog. They have dogs for protection and companionship, for work as much as for friend. A better solution is to increase funding or availability of programs in existence that speak to all the citizens of Maningrida (most of whom are indigenous) and that respects a culture as much as it does the animals living there. Spay and neuter, education in an appropriate language and not mandating the mass extermination of people's dogs are better tools for improving the dogs' situation. The reverse-racist commenter mentioned that spay/neuter hasn't worked. The truth is that there isn't funding for spay/neuter from the government. There is only one program I know of and they're a non profit. It seems silly to toss this solution out because a poorly-funded, poorly-available program hasn't worked. Additional funding (perhaps the kind that would be used to kill the dogs) would serve to further the goals of reducing the semi-feral dog population.

As to racism in Australia. It exists. That white Australians want to stick their heads in the sand as much as white Americans is hardly a denial of a real issue in the country.

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