Rabies, though preventable, kills 55,000 people and countless dogs every year. In many countries, governments respond by shooting or poisoning dogs, a grossly inhumane and hopelessly ineffective method of disease control. On 28 September, WSPA will be raising awareness about humane solutions.
Last year, WSPA supported member societies in affected regions – largely Asia and Africa – in delivering public education programmes and promoting a proven way to stop the spread of rabies: responsible pet ownership.
World Rabies Day 2007 saw around 10,000 rabies awareness leaflets distributed and over 5,000 dogs vaccinated.
But WSPA’s work with member societies continues all year round, implementing effective and humane responses to rabies and improving dog welfare. Read about two of the projects we support, in Nepal and Sierra Leone >>
Action for 2008: Getting governments to think humane
WSPA’s ongoing concern is the inhumane and unnecessary killing of dogs – according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there is no evidence that mass culls reduce the spread of rabies.
But responsible pet ownership – the neutering, vaccinating, and better care of dogs – can eradicate the myth of the wandering street dog, spreading disease. Alongside this, holistic solutions – led by governments and embraced by the public – can eradicate rabies itself.
Proof of this can be seen in Latin America, where canine rabies has been virtually eliminated thanks to mass vaccination and a concentrated effort by governments.
So for World Rabies Day this year, WSPA is working with governments, presenting the case for humane, effective prevention methods. Where comprehensive education and vaccination programmes already exist, we are encouraging authorities to keep going and showcase their success.
In Mexico: WSPA and member society Fundacion Antonio Haghenbeck are helping launch a nationwide government campaign aimed at children, distributing posters and providing 7,000 handcrafted bracelets.
In Colombia: Colombia largely has rabies under control, so this year’s mass animal vaccination and public education activities are about preventing re-emergence. In Bogota, a WSPA/government organised rabies conference will hear a WSPA expert speak about responsible pet ownership.
In Tanzania: WSPA is working with the government to offer free vaccinations for dogs in Tanzania’s largest city and distribute educational materials on rabies control and prevention. This will be supported by media coverage, and a procession will direct government attention to the rabies problem.
In Syria: In a country where the animal rabies vaccine is not widely available and the need for it is not fully acknowledged, WSPA is supporting member society SPANA’s public and government awareness raising activities.
In China: With cases of rabies and instances of mass dog culls both rising, WSPA is collaborating with the Centres for Disease Control to distribute awareness materials in rural areas, where people – particularly farmers and their children – are most at risk.
In Thailand: WSPA and the Veterinary Practitioners’ Association of Thailand are campaigning together for responsible pet ownership, and providing bite prevention posters to be used year-round in schools.
World Rabies Day is an initiative of the Alliance for Rabies Control. Learn more and get involved >>