Tunis, Tunisia

Training workshop on the capture and tagging of difficult dogs



On 27 and 28 September 2017, the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for North Africa organised a “Training workshop on the capture and tagging of difficult dogs” in Tunis (Tunisia). This was done in collaboration with the Tunis Municipality and the Tunisian Veterinary Services (Directorate General of Veterinary Services).

The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Marie Petretto, behavioural veterinary surgeon (Marwell Wildlife) and was intended for staff of the decentralised services of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the Urban Environment Protection Department of the Tunis Municipality, both of which are involved in the fight against rabies and the control of stray dogs.


Group photograph – day 2.  Picture © Aziza Bencherifa (IVSA) 2017.



This training was funded by the European Union, represented by the European Commission and the European Parliament, within the framework of the project Strengthening Veterinary Services in Developing Countries (SVSDC).

A first workshop of this kind was organised on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Tunis. Given the success of this first session and the benefits to the participants – a very clear increase in the number of dogs caught after training – a second workshop was organised for those involved in rabies control in Tunisia, vaccination of dogs, and in particular difficult dogs.

The aim of this workshop was to train teams of field administrative officers involved in the control of the stray dog – population and in the implementation of an annual vaccination programme for dogs, to be carried out in an efficient manner and in compliance with OIE standards on animal welfare, focusing in particular on the difficult dogs that usually escape the rabies vaccination campaigns, as implemented each year in Tunisia.

The specific objectives of this training therefore were to :

  • Refresh the knowledge of participants on rabies, i.e. epidemiology, pathogenesis, global control strategy, highlighting successful actions implemented in several countries and different communication tools developed on the subject ;
  • Provide participants with information on the rabies control strategy implemented in Tunisia;
  • Present the actions of the Tunis Municipality in the field of population control of stray dogs;
  • Outline the main lines of action of the OIE, in particular as regards animal welfare standards;
  • Present the basis of the dog’s behaviour and the attitude to adopt towards the dogs encountered according to their different postures;
  • Present the different techniques of approach and capture of stray dogs and put the participants in a real situation vis-à-vis stray dogs in the framework of practical exercises.

Overall, the workshop brought together some thirty participants: 11 from the Tunisian Veterinary Services, 6 from the Urban Environment Protection Department of the Tunis Municipality, 1 veterinary practitioner and 9 veterinary students. For the second time in 2017, the OIE provided an opportunity for officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of the municipal services to work together on a common theme: control of difficult dogs (stray dogs, semi-stray dogs, owned dogs which are too aggressive to be approached …). Through practical group exercises, participants were able to approach and manipulate domesticated dogs, discover and familiarise themselves with the capture equipment, and then apply the acquired knowledge in the field with an exercise to capture stray dogs in the vicinity of the compound of the Agence Technique des Transports Terrestres (Mining Department) of Tunis (Sijoumi) where the second day of the workshop took place.

The OIE would like to thank Ms Basma Gort – Ghedamsi, Assistant Director for Training and Skills Development, for hosting our Organisation.

After a brief introduction by Dr. Rachid Bouguedour, OIE Sub-Regional Representative for North Africa, Dr. Kaouther Oukaili, Rabies Programme Officer, Ministry of Agriculture of Tunisia (DGSV), presented an overview of the situation in Tunisia concerning the epidemiological situation of animal rabies and the options to fight this disease.

Then Dr. Soumaya Ben Chehida presented the track record of the Tunis Municipality in the management of stray dogs and highlighted the progress made since the previous session (10-11 May 2017); indeed, since the organisation of the workshop in May, 160 dogs were captured, sterilised, vaccinated and released at the capture site by the teams of the Urban Environment Protection Department of the Tunis Municipality. She also welcomed the participation of veterinary interns since early September under an agreement with the National School of Veterinary Medicine of Sidi Thabet (ENMV).

Following a general review of the disease, Dr. Jocelyn Merot, Programme Officer at the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for North Africa, presented the pathogenesis and symptomatology of rabies in humans and animals. He then highlighted the various control options, requiring the involvement of various stakeholders and in particular the aspects related to communication. Finally, he stressed the importance of integrating dogs-at-risk (difficult dogs) into the mass vaccination programme, hence the value of training relevant field staff in dog-capture techniques.

At the end of this workshop:

  • Participants acquired the basic skills to safely approach difficult dogs.
  • Participants learned about the different techniques available for capturing difficult dogs.
  • Participants were put in a real-life situation of capturing stray dogs.

The longer-term outlook is that:

  • The rabies control plan in Tunisia should include the vaccination of difficult dogs, currently beyond the capacity of the teams in charge of the implementation of the annual immunisation programmes;
  • Collaboration between veterinary services and municipal services will have to be intensified, in order to improve the management of difficult dogs and better control the stray dog – population by combining a sterilisation and euthanasia programme with rabies vaccination.


Dr. Jocelyn Mérot, Programme Officer at the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for North Africa.  Picture © Aziza Bencherifa (IVSA) 2017.

Group picture day 1. All pictures © Aziza Bencherifa (IVSA) 2017, unless mentioned otherwise.

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