AfA addresses the commonly asked questions surrounding this difficult issue.
Many of you read our recent social media posts about our letter to Myanmar govt. officials regarding stray dog culling in Yangon, and many of you reacted. Please allow us to respond here to the FAQ’s:
1) AfA’s offer of help As mentioned in our letter to the Myanmar government, we are uniquely placed to offer help and advice to alleviate the problems caused by human-dog conflict, an ultimate result of dog overpopulation. The AfA coalition is a network of animal welfare experts who are willing and equipped to offer help and advice with this issue. We are awaiting a response from the government following our letter and we would need them to request coalition support to ensure we can provide them with any assistance we can.
2) Evidence on projects working to eliminate rabies Our member organisation, Four Paws, are currently working on the ground in Myanmar, and have already vaccinated 55,000 animals as part of their pilot projects in Bagan and Naypyitaw. They have an agreement with Myanmar's Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department to continue their work to vaccinate 1 million animals throughout Myanmar by the end of 2021, and will update their supporters on progress with this as they carry out the work in each geographical area. This will reduce the public health risk posed by rabies exposure, which in turn will reduce human-dog conflict. For more information on this and to give your support or donation, please see:
The FAO position on rabies control states that controlling rabies in animals, and especially in dogs, is the main way to prevent human cases, as well as the negative impact the disease has on food security and livelihoods. Over 99% of human rabies cases are caused by dogs infected with rabies. Controlling the disease in dogs through vaccination and dog population management remains the most cost-effective way to sustainably protect humans from rabies exposure - http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7873e.pdf
The OIE states that vaccination of dogs is the preferred method of controlling and eliminating rabies worldwide. For epidemiological, ethical, and economic reasons, the culling of animals that are potential reservoirs cannot be considered as the priority for control and eradication of rabies. All successful rabies eradication campaigns have included measures combining humane control and vaccination of stray dog populations and vaccination of all owned dogs. Vaccination campaigns are set up with the aim of achieving coverage of around 70% of the canine population in a zone where rabies is endemic -http://www.oie.int/animal-health-in-the-world/rabies-portal/
The World Animal Protection (another AfA member) document on rabies control states that dogs are the main reservoir host for human and canine rabies. Vaccinating at least 70% of dogs in an area creates ‘herd immunity’. The vaccinated dogs form a barrier, slowing the spread of rabies until it dies out. By removing this main source of infection, rabies cases in dogs and other animal populations can be eliminated and human rabies deaths vastly reduced -https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/sites/default/files/int_files/controlling_rabies-one_humane_solution.pdf
3) Human-dog conflict
Our letter also points out, as a main point, the animal welfare concerns, as well as the human-dog conflict angle. We recognise that animal welfare concerns and human-dog conflict issues are interrelated. This issue was brought to our attention by concerned individuals in Yangon city itself and we were motivated to send our letter and offer of support in order to alleviate suffering for animals which will result in less human-dog conflict long term.
4)News story of child attacked by strays in Yangon.
The recent story of a child being attacked by stray dogs in the area is harrowing. AfA recognises that improved management of the stray dog population via rabies vaccinations programmes and population control will prevent situations like this arising in the future. There is an urgency for local officials to address this problem in a way which provides sustainable improvement to human and dog health & wellbeing and acknowledge that the current approach taken by Yangon City officials will not produce a sustainable outcome.
5) Response to sentiments that AfA is not qualified to comment on this matter.
The Asia for Animals Coalition consists of 22 member organisations, with a wider network of 600+ organisations supporting our appeals. The coalition is not based in any one country nor is it a western organisation. Between us, we have many Asian staff and work on a wide variety of animal welfare issues across many Asian countries. As stated above, we have member organisations who are highly experienced and qualified in dealing with this particular issue.
Watch Video by Four Paws on their #DontWaitVaccinate program, happening in Myanmar right now