Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups offer help in managing rabies control

COLOR-CODED:As well as urging government action, the groups proposed that color schemes be used to enable the easy identification of vaccinated animals

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A member of one of 30 animal welfare groups at a joint press conference in Taipei yesterday proposes ways to mark animals that have been immunized against rabies.

Photo: CNA

Civic animal protection groups yesterday issued a joint statement about rabies control, urging the government to improve pet registration management, evaluate whether an oral rabies vaccine for animals is practical and establish a system to identify which stray animals have been vaccinated.

Disappointed with the government’s rabies prevention and control measures, which have reportedly led to an increase in pet abandonment and animal mistreatment, the groups said they decided to step up and help, adding that they also have three demands for the government.

Their first demand covers pet registration, teaching owners their responsibilities, controlling pet breeding and sale, and improving animal welfare at public shelters — which would all reduce stray animal numbers, the groups said.

They also urged the government to take advantage of the opportunity to register and microchip pets when owners bring them for inoculation. It should also publicize animal species that are barred from being kept as pets, they said.

The groups’ second demand is that the government gather members from civic groups and other specialists to formulate a scientific and humane policy to deal with stray animals.

Their third demand concerns the resources the groups need to participate in rabies prevention and control, including sufficient doses of vaccine for stray animals and volunteers taking part in the proposed activities.

They also urged the establishment of a universal marking system to clearly show whether a stray animal has been vaccinated, as well as an evaluation of the feasibility of distributing oral vaccines in mountainous areas, and the recruitment of veterinary specialists to help with vaccinations.

“We are well prepared,” Environmental and Animal Society Taiwan (EAST) director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said, adding that members of the civic groups can help the government by providing manpower and experience in marking stray animals.

Hopefully the government can speed up its disease prevention measures because “starting to take action now is better than not starting at all,” Chen added.

Stray Animal Garden chairperson Huang Mei-hua (黃美華) urged local governments to coordinate and use a standard method of marking vaccinated stray animals, such as using the same color collar on big dogs, and yellow paint on smaller dogs, cats and infant animals, so that the public can easily see it from a distance.

Yeh Lih-seng (葉力森), a professor of veterinary medicine at National Taiwan University, said oral vaccine distribution is the only way to deal with rabies in wild animals, and urged the government to speed up its evaluation of this method to avoid the situation worsening.

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