Mass vaccination of dogs essential

Feb 12, 2010

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) have renewed their offer of support and training for the Bali Administration to help introduce a humane dog vaccination program to control the spread of rabies on the island.

The decision made by the previous Administration to waste time and resources on culling, rather than mass vaccination of dogs, has failed to control the disease and caused considerable animal suffering. To date almost 50,000 dogs have been killed by strychnine – a method of killing considered unacceptable by the international community, including the OIE.

In contrast, animal vaccination programs are internationally recognized as the most effective form of rabies prevention and eradication. At least 70% of the dog population needs to be vaccinated to achieve control.

BAWA has received funding from WSPA to vaccinate 70% of Gianyar Province‘s estimated 65,000 dogs in 512 banjars; to protect the local people and show that vaccination alone is an effective alternative.  The response from the people in the banjars has been overwhelmingly positive, in contrast to the angry protests to culling in other areas of the island.

Dr Elly Hiby, Head of Companion Animals at WSPA, comments: ‘The intensive vaccination drive in Gianyar is a working example of what is possible in Bali. Aus Aid and ACIAR have also donated funds to support Bali, including the purchase of 150,000 doses of long-acting animal vaccine. When added to what is already available, this makes vaccination of 70% of the dog population on Bali a very realistic target.’

BAWA is also addressing the misconception that stray dogs on the island are ‘wild’. In a typical Bali banjar, 95% of the dogs seen roaming along the streets are actually owned and valued by the people, but are not confined. Dr Hiby adds: ‘The owners may not be able to walk their dogs on a lead to the other side of the village, but if you bring the vaccine to their gateway they can handle their dogs while they are vaccinated. For those dogs that are more difficult to handle, dog handlers with nets can safely constrain the dogs for vaccination.  This has been shown to be true many times over by the BAWA teams in Gianyar.’

WSPA is calling on the Bali Administration to act now to avoid an escalation of the problem. Dr Hiby says: ‘The inauguration of the new Head of Animal Husbandry, Dr Putu Sumantra, offers the opportunity for swift action through vaccination that will reduce the risk to human life and ensure animal welfare.’

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