On Saturday September 8th 2007, WSPA and Member Societies took action all over the world to mark the first ever World Rabies Day.
Rabies is thought to result in over 55,000 human deaths every year – mostly children. The disease is also a huge animal welfare problem.
Dogs suffer abuse and persecution that stems from being the main source of rabies in humans, as well as the agony of the disease itself.
In many countries, governments try to control rabies by culling the dog population using cruel methods. Poisoning, electrocution or shooting are common. And in the long-term, these methods are not even effective in reducing the number of dogs or human rabies cases.
Our best hope for an end to rabies is to vaccinate enough dogs and to educate vulnerable people about how to prevent it.
Humane stray control
In countries throughout Asia, Africa and South America WSPA and member societies are demonstrating effective tools for controlling rabies through humane dog population management.
Also, many of our programmes focus on education and responsible pet ownership. Owners are encouraged to vaccinate their pets against rabies and have them neutered and regularly checked by a vet. The wider community and school children are educated about rabies and dog bite prevention.
Many of our responsible pet ownership programmes are considered by governments to be part of their rabies control strategies.
A global response
The reaction to World Rabies Day was huge. WSPA offices and Member Societies internationally reacted with initiatives which included mass media campaigns in South America, free dog vaccinations across Africa, and a large-scale education programme in China.
Find out more about just a few of the activities below.
Rabies is a major problem in Cameroon. Human deaths following bites from non-vaccinated dogs are rising.
On World Rabies Day, WSPA helped member society the Foundation for Animal Welfare with a mass education campaign for school children, pet owners and the wider community.
Over 3,000 people attended the lectures and received leaflets on rabies prevention. Before the campaign, many people had never even heard of rabies and did not realise the importance of vaccinating dogs.
"These people now know that dog bites are the main vector of rabies in humans and that mass killing of dogs is not an effective way of controlling rabies” says Dr Martin Fru Achiri, the Foundation’s CEO.
They also administered free rabies vaccinations to 100 dogs.
At least 20,000 Indian people die every year from rabies. India’s 30 million dogs play a major role in the spread of the disease.
WSPA member society the Marwar Animal Protection Trust (MAPT) have been sterilising and vaccinating dogs in the city of Jodhpur since 2004. So far they have treated over 31,000 stray dogs and over 200 pet dogs.
On World Rabies Day, MAPT organised events to spread rabies awareness to all sections of society.
There was an education programme aimed at school children, a free vaccination camp for dogs, and a puppet show to educate the city’s poorest community – the slum dwellers.
The threat of rabies is a daily fear for the people of Nepal. The very high population of stray dogs acts as a reservoir for the disease, and around 40,000 people a year need post exposure treatment.
Member society the National Zoonoses and Food Hygiene Research Centre (NZFHRC) in Kathmandu was designated the national focal point for World Rabies Day.
They used television, radio, newspapers, leaflets, posters and loudspeaker announcements to raise awareness of rabies and how it can be prevented.
There was also a free dog rabies vaccination camp, and 83 dogs were vaccinated.
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