A guide to the problems of stray dogs and cats on Tobago
Like many such destinations, Tobago does have a problem with stray dogs and cats. The situation only seems to have become really noticeable over recent years. We understand that the government is well aware of the problem and we have been told that they plan to introduce dog wardens to help deal with the problem. A major part of the problem is that it is often impossible to tell which animal is a stray and which is actually belongs to a fisherman or villager. The compulsory use of dog collars would obviously be a first step, but somehow this doesn't seem appropriate on an island such as Tobago.
Visitors afraid of dogs need have no fear. These poor curs are surprisingly friendly and good natured. Dog lovers, like me, find the situation a dilemma. My natural inclination is to feed and pet them. However, I strongly urge visitors not to do so. They are infested with fleas and tics, and mange is a common problem. You could easily pick up an infection if you do not thoroughly wash your hands immediately after petting them. Fortunately, Tobago has now been declared rabies-free.
The biggest problem, however, is that if you do feed pet dogs or cats you will encourage them to return and then be constantly pestered, day after day. You may welcome their company, but other visitors may feel very differently. This is particularly true if you are staying in a villa. The next visitors to the property may not be so fond of animals and being pestered by stray dogs or cats could potentially spoil their holiday and the reputation of the property.
There is a wonderful charitable animal welfare organisation on the island. Known as the Tobago Shelter and located in Friendsfield Road near the Dwight Yorke Sports Stadium near Scarborough, the T&TSPCA are associate members of the RSPCA. They do sterling work looking after strays and injured animals, but are totally reliant upon donations to keep their work going. We strongly urge all animal loving visitors to visit their website at www.ttspca.com and to help their efforts.