Evaluation of X Training Course for Animal Control Officers (Foca's Course)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
R.C.M. Garcia1,6; C. Magnabosco1,5; N.A. Calderon Maldonado1,2; C.B. Faraco3,4
1Instituto Técnico de Educação e Controle Animal (ITEC); 2Universidad de La Sale, Colombia; 3Faculdade de Taquara, RS; 4Associação Médica Veterinária Brasileira de Bem-estar Animal; 5Prefeitura de Guarulho, SP; 6Prefeitura de São Paulo, Alameda Porta D'Água, Cotia, SP, Brazil


As a consequence of the often brutal handling methods used by the public health authorities or by the zoonoses control services for capturing and killing animals in different cities of Latin America, building and maintaining partnerships with the communities for dog and cat population control activities becomes difficult (Calderon Maldonado 2005). Besides being an inefficient method for controlling dog and cat populations, the methods of collection and elimination of strays used are conceptually opposite to the promotion of responsible pet custody, possession and ownership. The negative image of the public health authorities formed in people's mind by these deficiencies in handling and treating animals, both in the streets during the capture and inside the zoonoses control services (zoonoses control centers, municipal kennels or environmental vigilance centers), result in disrespect for the public authority and its employees by the community (ITEC 2007). During the "I Encuentro sobre la Tenencia Responsable de Mascotas, Formación y Sensibilización del Personal del Centro de Controle de Zoonosis de Cali en Salud Pública, Bienestar Animal y Atención al Cliente" the need for a new public image of the zoonoses control services and similar services was strongly reinforced (WSPA 2004). As such, training responsive leaders and employees with knowledge of ethology and animal welfare in the field of public health / animal control became one of the main topics of the Meeting. It was concluded that the improvement of the public image of the animal control services would be a consequence and a reflection primarily of a paradigm shift in the way the dog catchers / lassoers conducted their work. Creating a new image of the zoonoses and animal control services consists not only of the implementation of effective animal control programs based on solid technical and ethical values, but also of a change in attitude, posture and behavior of those who work in that area (Roman 2005). The first seeds of the Training Course for Animal Control Officers (FOCA's Course) were planted during the First Latin American Meeting of Experts on Responsible Pet Ownership and Dog Control (Garcia, 2005), among the recommendations, emphasis was given to the formation of strategic alliances with different players directly or indirectly involved in animal control issues to promote responsible pet ownership, as well as to promoting the active and committed participation of the community, as being essential to effective programs for the control of dog and cat populations (OPAS & WSPA 2003). With the overall objective to train personnel at zoonoses and animal control services (ZCC) in the ethological handling of dogs and cats and thus enable them to become multipliers of the concepts of responsible pet custody, possession and ownership in the community with a views to promoting community healthy, the FOCA's Course was created in 2004 by Technical Institute of Animal Control (ITEC, 2005).

During the period of March 2005 until December 2008 were are made sixteen Foca, with 44 hours each. The course uses structured methodology of teaching on a harmonica on the three areas of learning: the cognitive, affective and Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Chabot & Chabot 2005), permeating the humanization of services. At the same time it creates awareness and develops skills necessary for the profession, working with values attitudes and postures, recognizing and making the participant recognize themselves as human beings who can, through their work, be a promoter of health and builder of peace (Cortina 2005, Afonso et al. 2006). The course highlights the change of image of these professionals, providing an environment that, in place of the former "lassoer," arises an official health promoter, educator, friend of the animal, partner of the community: an "Office of Animal Control" (ITEC 2008), for achieving a transparent and work with active participation of users (Pereira 2007). The aim of this study is measured the changes in the zoonoses control services (zoonoses control centers, municipal kennels or environmental vigilance centers--ZCC), and in the personal attitude of ACOs who participated in the X Curso Foca in Recife, PE, on may 2007, supported by ITEC, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Secretaria de Estado da Saúde de Pernambuco and prefeitura de Recife

Materials and Methods

The evaluation of Recife was carried out on 16th October 2007, 5 months after the FOCA Course, at which representatives from the following towns participated: Arapiraca (AL), Cabedelo (PB), Camaragibe (PE), Ilha de Maragibe (PE), Ilha de Tamaracá (PE), Jaboatão dos Guararapes (PE), João Pessoa (PB), Olinda (PE), Paulista (PE), Recife (PE). Two questionnaires were applied: one is individual and another is collective, for city, in the total of 34 individual questionnaires and 9 collectives. Informed consent signed by all participants for use permission of data collect.


The results have been divided in 4 categories: practice professional, community participation and interactions, animal welfare animal, internal changes. In the practice professional, 56% of the managers, directors or heads of the ZCC's took the Course; among the employees who did not take the Course, 60% accepted the new approaches brought by the Animal Control Officers (ACO) to them from their ZCC trained at the Course; 50% continue accepting healthy animals by the owner for euthanasia. About Community participation and interactions, the beginning of the elaboration of the responsible pet ownership project by the ZCCs; 56% of the municipalities have seen an improvement in their relationship with the animal protection NGOs. In the subject about animal welfare, as to the implantation of ethological handling in different municipalities, in 44.4% of the cities it is mandatory to implement ethological handling in all their actions; 77.8% of the municipalities, ethological handling was adopted for the removal of animals in the streets, most of them immediately after the course; 88.9% of the municipalities ethological handling was adopted for loading the animals in the vehicles immediately after the course; 66.7% of the municipalities initiated selective removal and 66.7% of the municipalities still do not have free clinical care; the 23.2% of those who are not applying that form of handling, report that the field staff did not participate in the course and for that reason it is difficult to convince them to accept the new techniques. About internal changes, 97% related changes yours behaviors with the animals and the people after the course; one of them said: "Now the animals have a second change" and another said: "Now the population respect us". About the importance of course, "It helps to love the animals and look inside us, changing our understanding about life. The course is magic, transforms and does think certain attitudes"; "learn who is possible to work in the public health with animal control and ethics".

The participants reported as to the most important changes that occurred after the Course at the ZCC: the immediate euthanasia of the debilitated animals who arrived in the ZCC; the care of the animal; the respect towards the animal; transmit to the community and to the field staff the sense of responsible pet ownership; the beginning of the elaboration of the responsible pet ownership project; euthanasia (acquisition and change of anesthetics); attitude and behavior of the team during the removal of the animals, considering the wellbeing of the animal; to transmit to the community and to the field staff the sense of responsible pet ownership, trying to persuade them that the attitude of giving an animal away at that specific moment or because of a determined circumstance may not be the most sensible thing to do. About each city, the representative of Arapiraca reported that the pallets were placed inside the kennels in the week following the Course and it began immediately to euthanize those animals that arrived at the ZCC and were suffering; requests for the removal of healthy animals from homes are no longer attend. The representative of Cabedelo reported that they are initiating an animal neutering project in association with the municipal authorities of João Pessoa; they adopted ethological handling of the animals to be vaccinated during the vaccination campaign; they noticed that the animals were less likely to defecate and urinate during the vaccination; an animal census was carried out and we already have an educator to give lectures in the schools. The representative of Camaragibe reported that the procedure for removing stray animals has changed completely and is helping to change the image of the employees and of the service; a pet adoption project was initiated. The representative of Ilha de Itamaracá commented that they are running an educational campaign; a monthly neutering campaign is being run for the animals of the poor communities. The representative of Jaboatão dos Guararapes reported that ethological handling methods were being applied and the use of cat food to attract strays during the removal; Veterinary consultations and 5 neutering surgeries per day are being carried out at the ZCC; the cattery will be reformed to improve the well-being of the animals. The representative of João Pessoa reported that the employees who attended the Course built, on their own account, a stretcher for transporting animals that are unable to walk; all participated in the purchase of new T-shirts for the employees; employees who did not take the Course find it difficult to understand why it is necessary to change the way we treat the animals; standard procedures for euthanasia procedure were changed to the use of barbiturates; in cats, application is intraperitoneal and it is now much easier for the employees and also more tranquil for the animals; the educational project involving the administrators of pet fairs and cemeteries has already begun; they are building a solarium at the kennels and a better cattery; as regards the colleagues who have not taken the Course, he says: "It's hard to explain to the team that did not go to the course... It's everything, the technique, the ethics, the pride in being an ACO. Then, we need to transmit to everybody this feeling of being an ACO". Vehicles with separate sections for the animals are being requested in this city too. He finishes saying that: "The improvement I've seen is the vehicle of ZCC, the capture in the streets. Some days we arrived to the fair and we did not talk to the administrator. We just got the dog and left. Nowadays it's different, we arrive and chat." The representative of Olinda says that "there was a change in attitude and behavior of the field team; the respect of the community when it sees how they are working now is important; the team doesn't even use the cache pool (rope lasso) anymore, not even the lasso, only the short leash; the team has made a stretcher; the cats are placed into the cattery section inside the vehicle; one week after the Course the employees were already using all the techniques; they started to talk to people and explain about responsible pet ownership; the community is helping". The representative of Recife says "Everything we've learned here we are trying to put into practice. We had already neutering, adoption, but they weren't on a regular basis. They began to be on a regular basis after the Course. We are in the process of building a cattery, having adoption and making a stretcher. Before we did not have the knowledge we have now and so we have changed the way we work in the streets. The population comes to help us a lot. As we work on triage of the animals, we try to convince the owner of those animals".

With regard to recommendations for making the Course more effective, they indicated training all the employees including senior management; participation of administrators in forums relating to the topic, providing an incentive for the Ministry of Health to adopt animal population control policies and actions; to present the proposal to the State Health Boards and to demand that the State Health Departments hold the course; that the course be given to all employees of ZCC preferably at the ZCC itself; the obligatory presence of the staff who works directly with the removal, for them to learn the techniques which can be transmitted only by the professionals who teach the course; that the senior management of those centers either take the course or obtain the information which will convince them to take action.


All cities, in the control animals, showed changes after the course. In the professional practice, a problem was identified in relation to employees who did not do the course accept the new techniques. Ideally, all employees who directly handle the animals and the leadership should participate the course . Most of the participating municipalities, 56%, related to have a relationship with the movement of animal protection more harmonious. Regarding welfare, 44.4% of the cities ethological management was required. Ninety-seven percent reported they changed their behavior towards animals, people and community, being more aware of the needs of animals and respect us. The course is a process of personal and professional development where participants acquire tools to deal with the difficulties encountered in daily and exploit their ideals and dreams. According Cortina in 2005, many of the things that are made by humans are not under the law and the punishment, but by pleasure. Thus, cultivating the intellectual faculties and sentient values, required for all citizens, is the real education. Chabot & Chabot 2005 reinforce that the acquisition of a cognitive skill or technique depends on its base, the feeling that develops how to accomplish the task, which is essential process of learning taken into account in the course Foca. It propose cuts in order paradigmatic opposite to the principles that have guided these traditional practices. The process of the course has shown it is possible the implementation of participatory models of teaching and learning, in which knowledge, skills, cultures, experiences and feelings serve to promote the transformation and human development in adversity. The course is in line with the National Program for Humanization of Health Services of the Ministry of Health, working to respect the autonomy of users, the officials, livestock and services.


In this movement, a fact is necessary to reenforce. The traditional process pointing towards an unethical, empty and indifference in relation to human needs, for health workers or/and the community. O X Foca Course proved to be a motivator and processor for professionals who work in the service of control of zoonoses and animal control, helping in the construction of change and better working conditions, with increased security and awareness of their role as educator, agent promoter of health, welfare and environment. Therefore, this article contribute and search actions to control animal best theoretically capable, for understand and explain, and that is materialized in qualified practices humanitarian and educational for all the population.


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Speaker Information
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R.C.M. Garcia
Universidade de São Paulo
Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia
Cotia, SP, Brazil

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