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Mad Dog Initiative


The Mad Dog Initiative

The Mad Dog Initiative is working to protect and conserve the biodiversity of Madagascar through a targeted feral and domestic dog spay/neuter, vaccination, removal, and adoption program.

In addition to this targeted program, we are conducting photographic sampling (camera trapping) of carnivore populations and lemur transect sampling to evaluate the effectiveness of this dog control program. Further, we are modeling the interactions between feral and domestic dogs and a host of endemic carnivore and lemur species. To address the ultimate causes of why dogs go feral in Madagascar and to improve our understanding of the role of dogs in households and villages across Madagascar, we are conducting expansive household surveys and questionnaires.

Our project consists of a number of collaborations among US, Canadian, and Malagasy researchers, students, and veterinarians. Our research project currently employs:

  • two Malagasy veterinarians,
  • one Malagasy veterinarian student,
  • two Malagasy researchers,
  • up to four local guides, and
  • one US field technician.

As the result of our success in promoting and developing consideration for the human treatment and conservation of wildlife, we were recently awarded with the Virginia McKenna award from Compassionate Conservation and the Born Free organization.

Volunteer with Mad Dog Initiative
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Mad Dog Initiative

Mad Dog Initiative

Mad Dog Initiative volunteers assist a variety of programs targeting feral dogs through outreach, veterinary services and wildlife surveys.

Mad Dog volunteers in Madagascar.

Mad Dog volunteers in Madagascar.

The Mad Dog Iniative Volunteer Experience

Length of volunteerism: 14 to 45 days (May to early July)

Cost: 2990 US Dollars

Included in cost: Airport pick up and drop off at the closest airport, as well as accommodation and three meals per day!

Not included in cost: Flights and the cost of visas (free if staying in the country for 30 days or less) as well as personal purchases including alcoholic beverages and expendables. The cost of immunizations and medications are not covered.

Type of accommodation: While in the field you will be living in a tent in and around small Malagasy villages. You will be able to take part in a number of local ceremonies while you work directly with the people who are hosting you. In the capital at the start and the end of the expedition, you will be housed in a cozy local guest house nestled in the hills of Antananarivo.

Mad Dog volunteers speaking with a local community in Madagascar.

Mad Dog volunteers speaking with a local community in Madagascar.

Volunteer Roles

Mad Dog Initiative works to improve conservation through effective control of domestic/feral dogs and wildlife surveys; teams undertake important spay, neuter, and vaccination programs for feral and community owned dogs that are act as predators of  Madagascar’s endangered animals. In addition, the organization takes adoptable, feral dogs (e.g. habituated dogs, puppies) to a no-kill sanctuary in the capital where dogs receive behavioral training for an hour a day, medical care, and roam on an enclosed stretch of land. Further, they conduct expansive carnivore and lemur surveys to estimate wildlife populations and evaluate the effectiveness of our capture program.

Volunteers are welcome to join the Mad Dog expedition to the heart of Madagascar’s cloud forest – to assist in these monitoring, spay/neuter, and vaccination programs. Volunteers are needed for both the veterinary and the wildlife monitoring teams. When working with the Mad Dog Initiative, you will be living in Malagasy villages and an immersive cultural experience is assured.

Medical Volunteers

Mad Dog team members in Madagascar.

Mad Dog team members in Madagascar.

Medical volunteer activities include: Assessing, diagnosing and treating sick and injured dogs and cats; administering anesthesia; and assisting with – as well as performing – surgical procedures (spays and castrations), vaccination programs. These activities will take place field facilities!

Wildlife Monitoring Volunteers

Wildlife monitoring activities include: Conducting camera trapping of Madagascar’s carnivore community and conducting line transect sampling of lemurs across multiple study sites scattered across the Ranomafana National Park. You will work with a Malagasy research assistant hike throughout the national park to collect these invaluable data and then enter these data into our database at the research center.

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