Rabies law: Framework for cooperation against rabies

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Rabies law in the Philippines.

To remove the Philippines from the list of the top rabies countries in the world, the national government enacted Republic Act 9482, also known as the rabies law or Anti-Rabies Act of 2007. This law led to the creation of the National Anti-Rabies Committee and the National Anti-Rabies Program, the framework that promotes cooperation among government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organization (POs) for the prevention and control of rabies in the country.

“Cooperation is an essential strategy in the anti-rabies program. Without cooperation, the target to attain a rabies-free Philippines on 2020 may not be possible,” said Atty. Heidi Caguioa of the Animal Kingdom Foundation during the Quezon City Rabies Prevention and Control Summit held at Quezon City Hall on 22 March 2012.

Even though the rabies law has been in place since 2007, only few violators have been penalized and imprisoned according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). “This is due to lack of cooperation and serious implementation of the law in some communities in the provinces and even in Metro Manila,” said Atty. Caguioa.

The rabies law mandated concerned government agencies to move towards the control and eradication of rabies in the country. Salient provisions of the law include: mass vaccination of dogs; establishment of a central database for registered and vaccinated dogs; impounding, field control and disposition of unregistered, stray and unvaccinated dogs; conduct of education and information campaign; provision on pre-exposure treatment to high risk personnel and animal bite victims;  provision of free routine immunization or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) of school children aged 5-14 in high risk areas; and responsible pet ownership.

The law also specifies penalties to violators. Pet owners who fail or refuse to register and immunize their animals against rabies will be fined PhP 2,000.00. Those who refuse to put their pets under observation after biting incident will be meted a fine of Php 10,000.

The local government unit performs a vital role in the implementation of the law. “You are the frontliners in the implementation of the law. That is why it is important for you to understand and have a clear knowledge about the law,” said Atty. Caguioa to barangay officials who attended the summit.

Atty. Caguioa also appealed to pet owners, “You are the subject of this law. If only pet owners are responsible, there is no need for the law. We should be responsible and help attain the goal to be a rabies-free country,” concluded Atty. Caguioa.

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