KUCHING: An agreement has been reached between the Sarawak government and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on means to fight the spread of rabies.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who heads the State Disaster Management Committee, said this was achieved during a closed-door meeting involving representatives of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Sarawak, Kuching South City Council (MBKS), Save Our Strays (SOS) and Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), here yesterday.
He said these parties would collaborate in carrying out targeted removal of stray dogs at the locations classified as ‘black areas’ in terms of rabies infection.
As you are aware, the operation will start tomorrow (today). There have been lots of negative talks (about means to handle the rabies situation) on social media and in response to this, I have called for this meeting involving myself representing State Disaster Management Committee, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, as well as representatives of the DVS, SOS and SSPCA, to decide on an agreed strategy for the operation, Uggah said.
It is learnt that SOS was represented by Kitty Chin and Swee Sia, while SSPCA was represented by its chairwoman Rebbeca D’Cruz and president Datin Dona Drury Wee.
The Sarawak government would continue with the targeted removal of roaming stray dogs to contain the rabies outbreak, despite strong criticisms from netizens and animal lovers, said Uggah.
Moreover, he stressed that such operation was ‘necessary’ in view of the rise in the number of positive rabies cases in Kuching.
That’s why the committee feels that a more aggressive action needs to be taken.
On the specifics of the meeting yesterday, Uggah said two key matters had been agreed upon.
Number 1, the (targeted removal of strays) operation would carry on as scheduled. Number 2, any dog with a double-collar that comes under SOS’ CNVR (capture-neuter-vaccinate-return) programme would be handed over to the SOS group, for them to retain; the rest of the dog would be handed over to the Veterinary Services Department.
Referring to the operation, Uggah dismissed the allegation that the Sarawak government would carry mass culling of dogs throughout Sarawak.
I must explain that what’s being said on social media is, in fact, not what we have announced.
What happened was during a meeting last week, we divided the various areas across Sarawak
into ‘white’ � those that are
rabies free; ‘grey’, where positive samples have been found but the number (of cases) has reduced; and ‘black’ where the number of samples of rabies found is on the increase.
In this regard, the MBKS area can be considered as a ‘black area’; this is the reason why we need to carry out the programme, he explained.
Uggah also warned dog owners against letting their pets roam the streets and having the animals mix around with the unvaccinated strays � adding that there would be no more warning issued to the owners who continued to be indifferent to the situation.
We feel that there have been enough notices being issued to dog owners. Now we are working together with SOS and SSPCA � that’s why we hope that the public would appreciate our intention and give their fullest cooperation in making Sarawak rabies-free, he said.
Asked on SOS’ main concerns raised during the meeting yesterday, Uggah said the animal rights group spoke up about their CNVR programme and its commitment in keeping dogs from that programme at a proper transit centre so as to prevent them from roaming the streets with other dogs that might carry the rabies virus.
SOS has said that there is no reason to remove dogs with the double-collars � indicating that they are under the CNVR programme � because according to SOS, these dogs are already vaccinated; therefore, SOS is confident that these dogs are not rabies virus carriers.
So we come to a compromise � we would hand them (dogs with double-collars) over to SOS, so that the animals could be kept at the SOS transit centre for observation.
We don’t want to see the dogs ‘berkeliaran’ (roaming), Uggah said. Department of Veterinary Services Staff led by its director, Dr Adrian Susin Ambud were also present.
Source: SARAWAK GOVERNMENT