Happy Endings to a Rabies Scare

Humane Society International

  • One of the dogs, going home. HSI

  • Leon, with a green “I’ve been vaccinated” ribbon around his neck. HSI

  • These “community dogs” are in comparatively good condition. HSI

  • Waiting to participate in our spay/neuter clinic. HSI

HSI consultant veterinarian Maria Renee Selaya was in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, teaching a workshop on the importance of sterilizing companion animals when a contact of ours in the city of Viacha called to request assistance with a rabies scare that had affected a local pack of free-roaming dogs.

Timely intervention

Upon her return from Santa Cruz, Dr. Selaya visited the facility where five dogs captured near the suspected rabies case were under observation.

Dr. Seleya could see that these were in fact community dogs, cared for by people who took pity on them; all were in good health and looked well-fed. Once the rabies observation period ended, she and her team sterilized all five and asked the local radio to broadcast descriptions of them with a request for their caretakers to come and adopt them if so desired. Four dogs returned to their feeders, now as family dogs, but the fifth was left at the pound with no one to claim him.

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Going the extra mile

Our contact decided to pay a visit to a farmer who lived near where the supposedly sick dog had originally been picked up. He found the octogenarian tending to his sheep.

On hearing about the last dog, the man asked to be taken to see him.

Once reunited with “Leon,” it was clear that the farmer was not leaving without the friend who had shown up on his doorstep one day to beg for scraps and kept him company in his fields, a final happy ending to what could have been a story of needless tragedy.

Working together for animals

HSI has worked closely with this kind-hearted official in Viacha since September 2012, when the mayor of the city welcomed our support to develop a spay/neuter project there. This man knew that a rabies scare would prompt members of the community to request that the dogs be rounded up and killed. We are glad that he thought to reach out to us and that we were able to help.

HSI is a committed partner of an ongoing spay/neuter project in Viacha, advising, training and offering veterinary services at the request of authorities who have compassion for the animals who live side-by-side with them and their constituents. Join us: Become a Street Dog Defender.