In light of the recent dog culling in Jessore, Chittagong and Feni, Humane Society International in Bangladesh Country Director Maya Barolo-Rizvi issued the following statement:
“The recent culling of stray dogs is based on the misplaced belief that indiscriminate killing of dogs is the solution to rabies. Dog culling actually increases the spread of rabies. According to the World Health Organisation the most effective and cost-efficient strategy to prevent rabies is mass vaccination of dogs, along with humane methods of population control through animal birth control, such as sterilisation. The animal birth control, or ABC, approach to rabies elimination is backed by evidence showing that it results in the overall reduction of dog population, as well as reduced aggression in stray dogs and reduced biting incidents. Dealing with stray dogs in a manner that is inconsistent with the ABC approach is counterproductive and measures to undertake culling of stray dogs are unlawful – the practice has been banned in Bangladesh.”
In 2010, the Centre for Disease Control at the Ministry of Health and Welfare stablished a national strategy for rabies control in Bangladesh, based on the two-pronged approach of mass dog vaccination and treatment for humans who were exposed to rabies. Since then, according to Health Ministry figures, the average number of deaths from rabies has dropped from 2,000 people each year to under 200.
Bangladesh has one of the lowest dog populations per capita in the world, with an estimated 0.5 dogs per 100 people in Dhaka, according to a Humane Society International (HSI) survey conducted in 2014. The stray dog population in Bangladesh can easily be managed through ABC, as has been shown by the Dog Population Management Programme, a programme jointly run by the HSI and Dhaka North City Corporation since 2012. In the past year, the HSI clinic has sterilised and vaccinated almost 4,000 dogs in Dhaka North alone. Preventing the transmission of rabies through dog vaccination costs 240 taka per animal, whereas the average cost of rabies treatment in humans is 7,000 taka per person.
Barolo-Rizvi adds: “Bangladesh can eradicate rabies domestically and reduce the global burden of rabies if it continues with its national street dog population management plan, supported by trained human resources and sufficient budget. Indiscriminate dog culling will prevent Bangladesh from achieving this goal.”
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