When national news outlets reported that fishers on Reunion Island were using stray dogs as bait for sharks, the world was startled.
The French island of Réunion, located east of Madagascar, is a tropical paradise. Each year, many tourists choose this enchanted wonderland as their holiday spot in the Indian Ocean. In recent years, however, the carefully cultivated image of this tourist destination has been tarnished by tales of what animal rights groups have described as the most horrible kind of animal mistreatment ever. According to a National Geographic investigation, island fishersuse stray dogs as live bait for sharks.
Live dogs are used as shark bait on Reunion Island.
In 2005, the Paris-based group 30 Million d’ Amis (Thirty Million Friends Foundation) TMFF sent reporters and a video team to Reunion to investigate rumors that local shark fishers were using live dogs as bait. Reha Hutin, the president of TMFF, was critical in exposing this awful practice. She states, “There is no value to a dog’s life there,” and strays are considered pests and a nuisance. Because of this, it wasn’t easy to gain the residents’ support for reform. Nonetheless, when additional photographic proof and details of the horrific practice were revealed, even the quietest island residents were outraged.
Due to the work of several animal rights organizations and organizations that care for dogs, there have been numerous reforms; this cruel practice is almost extinct. In addition, the introduction of newly created regulations and legislation provides for harsh sanctions and punishments for anyone discovered using live dogs as fish bait.
When challenged with reports of this practice, the French embassy in the state of Washington asserts that the allegations have been exaggerated. Using dogs as shark bait is likely related to local amateur fishers and is uncommon in the commercial fishing business.
The embassy concurs with the need to halt this barbaric practice.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of Washington offers a $1,000 prize to any Reunion Island police officer who captures anybody still using dogs as bait for fishing.
Solutions Addressing the Problem of Stray Dogs on Reunion Island
Mary Ann Mott of the National Geographic Society said that Reunion was home to 150,000 stray and abandoned canines. These dogs were a public nuisance, but they were also forming groups and becoming deadly. Even the most ardent animal rights enthusiast recognized the need for a solution to Reunion’s stray dog overpopulation.
Both locally and internationally, numerous groups have stepped forward to assist with the Reunion Island crisis since these stories emerged. To address the problem of overpopulation, the Thirty Million Friends Foundation has funded a spay and neuter program for animals. In addition, veterinarians would be compelled to report any animal believed to have been injured due to being used as bait. Moreover, reunion Island police have boosted their checks of fishing vessels, implementing and developing new detection tools for individuals attempting to avoid the new restrictions.
Thanks to animal welfare organizations and vigilant police activity, the most recent reports are encouraging. For example, the police no longer get complaints of dogs being used as shark bait on the island of Reunion.