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Ending inhumane culling of dogs: the only global solution to rabies

Humane mass dog vaccination programs control rabies regardless of geography, climate or politics.

If 70 percent of dogs in a region are vaccinated, cases of rabies will drop. If the vaccination program continues over a number of years, dog rabies will be eliminated – saving dogs from horrific suffering and offering protection and peace of mind to human communities.

Evidence: Latin America

In 1983, Latin America committed to mass dog vaccination to eliminate cases of human rabies transmitted by dogs. Adopting this humane approach has paid off: dog rabies cases in the region declined from a peak of 25,000 in 1977, to just 196 in 2011 – a decrease of more than 99 percent. Similarly, human rabies cases fell by 96 percent.

The effectiveness of vaccination is clear: dog rabies cases have been reduced to zero from close to 5,000 per year in Buenos Aires, 1,000 in Lima and 1,200 in Sao Paulo. As of September 2011, Chile, Mexico and Peru have also been officially declared rabies free, with Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Uruguay in the process of being declared.

Evidence: India

In 1994, the authorities in Jaipur trialed a mass dog vaccination program in part of the city affected by rabies, using guidelines created by WSPA and the World Health Organization (WHO). This 2.5 mile square area had experienced as many as 10 human rabies cases per year but, thanks to the vaccination program, this reduced to zero by 2001. Sadly, during the same period, the number of dog rabies cases in unvaccinated areas of the city increased. Since then, a local animal welfare group, Help in Suffering, has continued to humanely vaccinate an average of 70 dogs a week across Jaipur. As a result, there have been zero reported human rabies cases in the city since 2002.

Evidence: Tanzania

From 1996 to 2001, two mass dog vaccination campaigns were carried out in villages in the Serengeti region. The first led to a 70 percent decrease in dog rabies cases, while the second achieved an amazing 97 percent decrease. However, dog rabies cases did not decline in villages where vaccinations did not take place. As a result, a regular dog vaccination program was established, which – as of 2001 – has eliminated rabies from pastoral communities and the Serengeti National Park.

Evidence: South Africa

In 2007, a mass dog vaccination project was launched with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa – an area that had experienced as many as 30 human rabies cases in a single year. Prior to the project, rabies had been a problem for local people and dogs for decades; as of September 2011, however, it had been 14 months since the last human case
 

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