GIS AND FREE ROAMING DOG MANAGEMENT: USING SUITABILITY ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE POTENTIAL LOCATIONS FOR ORAL RABIES VACCINATION ON THE NAVAJO NATION
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractOver 250,000 free roaming domestic dogs are estimated to live on Navajo Nation land, raising animal welfare and public health concerns. Due to the high dog to human ratio in Navajo communities, dog bites are a common injury. Free roaming dogs can contract and spread rabies after interactions with infected wildlife, and less than 20% of dogs living on the Navajo Nation are vaccinated against the disease. Research on oral rabies vaccines emphasize how important efficient delivery methods are in adequately vaccinating enough dogs to reach herd immunity. Suitability modeling can further improve vaccination rates by mapping preferred habitat to locate unowned dogs. This research-based project aims to model suitable locations for oral rabies vaccine delivery using the geographic information systems software ArcGIS Pro. Suitable habitat in the study area is based on proximity to human development, preferred land cover, and water sources - as documented in existing free roaming dog research. Habitat is combined with Boolean overlays for slope and road buffers, to determine valid delivery sites. The results indicate 648 of 1663 square miles, or 38.96% of the total study area, is suited for both free roaming dog habitation and oral rabies vaccine delivery. Within this habitat, two main areas have the highest suitability scores; totaling 140 miles, or 8.41% of the study area. Conducting a local suitability analysis before implementing oral vaccine deliveries could improve efficiency by eliminating areas unsuitable for free roaming dogs. Determining suitable habitat may lead to the discovery of more dogs, especially when dogs may be unrestricted or completely feral.