Responsible pet ownership key to rabies-free Philippines.
Dogs are said to be man’s best friend. However, it is sad to know that dogs are the carriers of more than 99 percent of human rabies resulting to 55,000 deaths every year worldwide.
The culprit behind the increasing rabies cases and deaths is accounted to stray dogs. However, an expert from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Ms. Sarah Vallentine stressed, “We cannot address the problem on rabies by simply removing stray dogs in the street without addressing the problem in human behaviour.”
At the Quezon City Rabies Prevention and Control Summit held at Bulwagang Amoranto Quezon City Hall on 22 March 2012, Ms. Vallentine discussed strategies to address problems on rabies control and management.
“Dogs may not be born stray. In reality, dogs without human care are very unlikely to survive. Although it varies from different countries, most stray dogs either have an owner that allow them to roam or they were once owned but now abandoned. Stray dogs are results of irresponsibility of human owners. Dogs are roaming around to find food and to survive,” Ms. Vallentine said.
In 2011, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) recorded 216,624 dog bites incidence in the country and majority of the cases were caused by stray dogs. In response, the local government imposed the capture and killing of stray dogs in the communities. In Quezon City alone, there were more than 3,600 captured stray dogs. 3,500 of them were euthanized.
“It is good to prioritize human welfare but it does not have to be done in the expense of the animals,” Ms. Vallentine appealed. “We should also consider a strategy that target the root cause of the problem – why dogs go astray and roam around. Here, pet owners play a vital role to address the problem. We should educate them to be responsible pet owners.”
The responsibilities of a pet owner include provision of pet’s basic needs like proper grooming, adequate food, and regular vaccination against rabies. “With these basic responsibilities, we can surely control the problem on rabies. We prevented the horrific suffering of rabies victims without causing a horrific suffering to dogs,” concluded Ms. Vallentine.
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