CZAAWE Resource Article

Human-animal interactions of community dogs in Campo Largo, Brazil: A descriptive study
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Veterinary Behavior-Clinical Applications and Research
Free-roaming, ownerless dogs comprise a considerable portion of Brazil's dog population. To address societal concerns for animal welfare, the Brazilian town of Campo Largo established the "community dog program," where free-roaming dogs are cared for by self-appointed community members, known as maintainers. As this program was established only 2 years ago, little is known about the interactions that take place between these dogs and people residing in these communities. Thus, the objective of this study was to describe the types of human-animal interactions observed between community dogs and humans in Campo Largo. Dog subjects (n = 7), selected by the municipality based on accessibility and community approval, were of mixed breeds, and averaged 4.0 +/- 4.16 (mean +/- SD) years old, ranging from 1 to 10 years old. Over an 18-day period, each dog was observed through continuous focal sampling for 6 consecutive hours on 3 separate days, with the exception of 2 dogs, Pitoco and Moranguinha, who were observed for 1 and 2 days, respectively. Interactions were presented as medians and total counts and grouped as dog initiated or human initiated. Human-initiated interactions were further distinguished as either stranger initiated and community member initiated. Of the 465 total dog-human interactions, 298 were initiated by dogs and 167 by humans. Dogs interacted with vehicles a total of 157 times. Relative frequency of dog-initiated interactions toward vehicles was much lower than those directed at humans. Although dogs approached humans a median of 9 times per 6-hour observation period, they approached vehicles 0 times per observation day. Vehicle-chasing was observed a median of 2 times per 6-hour period. Avoiding and barking at humans was observed, directed most often toward strangers who had no known previous contact with the dogs. Although humans petted, hugged, and kissed dogs, they were also seen to kick, scold, and attempt to scare them. Both community members and strangers showed affection toward dogs. Kicking was observed a total of 4 times, only performed by strangers. However, strangers were also observed to feed dogs a median of once per observation period. This descriptive study is the first documentation on the types of interactions between community dogs and humans in Campo Largo. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.