I'm trying to help a friend in Macedonia set up a facility to handle the terrible stray dog and cat problem everywhere in that country (they shoot and poison dogs and cats in the streets; countless others walk around lame and diseased). I wonder whether Permaculture principles might help, although I've never read anything in the literature that directly addresses this issue.
We're looking into an acre of land on the outskirts of one of the cities, Tetovo, and setting up some converted used shipping containers to get started as office and shelter space.
For the diet, I'm thinking of growing grains and vegetables for part of it, but which ones would be best? Has anyone grown their own dog and cat food? For animal protein, I'm thinking in terms of fish ponds and also chickens and ducks to handle pests, provide manure, and supply more protein.
Cat and dog manure contains about 2-1/2 times as much nitrogen, the same amount of phosphate and half as much potash as cattle manure. But it can't be used directly as fertilizer because of worms and other parasites, I've read, so we will have to compost it for a lengthy period first. We will try to sell off the extra manure.
We mainly will try to place the dogs and cats as pets and ask for donations for them. But I wonder what else we can do to make this viable. Any suggestions from the Permie Brain Trust would be welcome!
The first thing I'd do is encourage/educate people about spaying/neutering their pets, hopefully your friend is already considering this. There will always be a problem with strays if breeding goes unchecked.
I've had pet cats eat asparagus, pumpkin & sweet potatoes. Most dogs eat darn near anything! There is much info on the web about making your own pet foods. Chicken is one of the main ingredients in dog or cat foods.
Yeah, education on spaying and neutering is certainly a priority. It takes cultural change, too, I'm afraid. Right now I'm in Korea, and every summer there's a tradition of eating dog soup for virility, so they round up dogs for the slaughter. It's really too bad they think they're losing their virility and have to eat dogs to attempt to get it back, but fortunately there are efforts to change the thinking on that.
As for food, I know what dogs eat, but what sustains them is a matter of controversy. Some say that the length of their digestive tracks indicates they should be on meat only; others seem to think they do well enough on vegetables. I dunno. Also, killing chickens and ducks to feed dogs and cats is something I need to think through a little more.
some vegies are ok but you are right in your thinking that animal protein should make up the majority of the diet. although in stray city type situations those dogs and cats are likely surviving on less than ideal foods anyway so you don't have much to lose. I would go for trash. leftovers from restaraunts, butchers,most people don't eat all the guts out of the chickens etc....pigs are an excellent source of protein and have historically been raised on human waste and trash in relatively small areas. not probably very permie but if I were in a situation where I had to raise all my own dog food I would do pigs as a large supplement to their diet in addition to the poultry and and goats.
personally I would focus most on offering free humane euthanasia and spay and neuter. in the long run that will be far more effective and humane. even in the states with huge marketing and relative prosperity, in most areas dogs and cats have nowhere to go and rescues struggle to feed them. and from what I have seen most small shelters/rescues are really just permanent homes with lots of animals without the benefit of those monstrous rescue organizations. I would suspect there aren't many pet homes available considering the economic struggles of the area. dogs that appear to be purebred and in excellent health might get placed. I don't want to be discouraging, I have great sympathy for dogs and cats in these situations and truly believe that the best option for most of them is euthanasia.
contact colorado rescue organizations. they actually have a SHORTAGE of animals for people to adopt. maybe some of the more prosperous would be willing to pay to extract/export some of the more adoptable animals for the novelty of it. some puppy mill puppies/dogs they found around here were flown for free by a volunteer to colorado to be adopted recently.
I totally agree with Leah about the euthanasia. Cultural change would definitely help things along. If they are poisoning/shooting them in the streets, changing that to a more humane & discreet way will be a challenge in itself. When I mentioned my cats eating veggies, it's in combination with canned cat food. Dogs and cats are truly carnivores at heart.
It's difficult to comprehend human consumption of dogs, but it's my understanding that's been going on in parts of Asia for a very long time. I've heard of some Aisians eating tiger meat (even though there's been a ban since 1993), also using powdered rhinoceros horn for "medicine", and of course shark fin soup, which has grown in popularity over the years.
As long as people believe in these old ways, it will likely continue. Even if it's black market trade. The shark fin soup really gets me. To think they will catch a shark, cut the fin from it's body and they just throw it back in the water, just makes me shudder. So wasteful and unnecessary. It's all about the money. Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy and is very expensive.
Leah and Gwen, I think you are right about the euthanasia. It will be necessary, certainly until/if spaying and neutering programs are begun and have an effect, and most likely well beyond. It is sad to have to ponder that as anyone who has ever been blessed with a sweet and loyal pooch will know. I've had several.
This is probably taking permaculture waaay too far, and not even Mollison, to the best of my knowledge, has had the nerve to tackle this, but as a society, sooner or later, we're going to have to get over our penchant for burying people and pets in graveyards rather than returning them to the fields to nourish the crops.
I remember Lee Hays, one of The Weavers -- renowned folk singers -- specified in his will that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread on the compost pile, and that's exactly what happened. I always thought this was the right spirit.
And obviously an animal shelter with a euthanasia program is going to have a lot of animal carcasses to deal with. How do you use them as input? Do you treat them as a kind of hugelkultur and plant over them? What are the safety considerations?
Slightly off topic, there's a must-see/read play by Sam Shepard called, Buried Child, in which a desperately bored wife of an alcoholic couch-potato farmer has either an incestuous encounter with her autistic son or an affair with the town preacher, depending on how you interpret things. Anyway, the liaison produces a baby, which they quietly bury, at birth, in the garden. No one finds out, but the following spring, the garden starts producing enormous, beautiful, luscious, juicy vegetables and fruits that just amazes the neighbors and starts people wondering what the hell they used as fertilizer. And, of course, the embarrassed woman has no answers. The play won the Pulitzer Prize in the Eighties, deservedly so.
I don't thinking you're taking anything too far. You've made a valid point about death/burial, and I happen to agree with you.
Both my father and mother have their bodies donated to a medical school. My father died in 1994. His body was donated & the only cost involved was paying for the ride from the hospital to the funeral home. It was much easier (than planning a funeral) for my mother, who couldn't afford much. We had a friends & family memorial service for my dad at my parent's home.
There was no casket, no wake, no nasty embalming chemicals. After my dad's corpse "graduated" (so to speak) from the medical school, his remains were cremated. My mother had the option of getting his ashes, but she didn't want them. We all prefer to remember dad as a living being, not as a jar full of ashes, and he didn't choose to be disposed of in a particular place.
I have many ways of remembering my dad, I don't need a cemetery to visit for that. Ditto for a pet cemetery. Over the years, I've had 4 cats live long lives and 3 of them were euthanized. Their corpses were incinerated. 1 cat died in our home & we buried her. It's my understanding that many urban & suburban areas have rules against burying pets in your backyard. If you are fortunate to live rurally, that probably isn't a big concern.
I've never heard of "Buried Child" before, but I'm familiar with Sam Shepard. I just read about on Wikipedia. Interesting topic for a play.
Supposing that I am not worried about laws and I just want to find a permaculture solution ....
Let us suppose that 50 dogs per month come in. And that 30 dogs per month are adopted. That leaves 20 dogs per month to .... deal with. And, let us suppose that these dogs were given two months to find a new home - but that didn't work out.
So we have 20 dogs per month that are not wanted. Lots of different sizes. About four or five dogs per week.
You can compost an animal, but it is (IMO) stinky and gross and .... there has to be a better way.
I would think the thing to do is to raise pigs, chickens and carnivorous fish there and convert the unwanted carcass into pork, chicken and fish. I think that 20 acres would be a minimum.
cool! I didn't think about carnivorous fish to dispose of bodies. of course that means traditional 'humane' euthanasia would be out due to the drugs involved. but honestly a quick lead in the head is probably a huge improvement on the lives the dogs would suffer through alternatively and it is not as far off from standard ethanasia, as far as suffering goes, as many people would like to think...... and it is alot cheaper. I think that many people are frightened by the twitching of the last moments and some of the drugs used to euthanize simply halt that. the process is still there, its just not witnessed so graphically.
I would bet that there are few laws governing such things there and even less laws enforced.