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Culling The Stray Dogs

Culling The Stray Dogs
What a painful scene for dog lovers in the state of Penang. The Chief Minister of the state, Lim Guan Eng has announced the decision of culling the stray dogs on the street, had invited several protests from animal rights groups. It is not an easy decision for a government to make, as the reason of the cullings was because of the spreading of rabies disease in the country, partly through the stray dogs.

The situation has put the public health at risk and therefore an immediate action is required to bring it under control.

In Penang, five cases of dog bites in the state have been reported in less than 24 hours making a total of 41 dog bites cases to date, and three have been tested positive for rabies. According to a research, the probability of a human being bitten by a stray dog and infected the disease is very low at only 1 to 100,000. However, the chances may rise significantly when pet dogs contracted the disease through the interaction with the strays on the street. Human interacts with their pets closely like a friend or family members. Therefore the decision is made with public health as the top priority.

Many have given suggestion that there are still alternative ways of controlling the disease instead of culling. Giving vaccinations to the stray dogs, which demonstrated by other countries such as India, has proven to be an effective way of controlling the rabies. However, the state has not prepared for that beforehand and was short of vaccinations, and it takes weeks to receive imported new stocks of 500 units each batch of delivery. At such the speed, it is impossible to vaccinate thousands of stray dogs without compromising the health of the 1.6 million people living in the state.

Culling stray dogs is nothing new in Malaysia, as it happened concurrently in other states such as Perlis and Kedah. Even the previous government in Penang has done it with public cash reward of RM80 for each dog. The reason of the recent outrage was because the Penang government has done it transparently by announcing it to the public. The decision is made with the advise from the Health Ministry and Veterinary Services Department.

However, they are not acting arrogantly alone and was open to all proposals of dealing with the rapidly spreading rabies in the state. They have communicated with Worldwide Veterinary Services (WVS), which is a non-governmental international organisation, provided them with geographical data of detected rabies and discussed about the supply of vaccines. It is believed that the WVS could arrange 50,000 vaccines and manpower to the state by end of this year to conduct a mass vaccination programme.

With that offer, the WVS has urged the Penang state government to stop culling the stray dogs, but the Chief Minister, Lim has asked the organization to prove that the huge number of vaccines are in fact, exist and ready to deliver to the state as promised. It could be very wrong for a government to change their decision out of emotion without a valid reason.

Dog lovers opposed to culling of dogs. For some of them, dogs are more important than anything else in the world. But for some other group of people, all animal lives are equally important, and therefore, they went vegan. For sure the latter sounds a little bit more logical.

One thing for sure is that an elected government should act to benefit the public interest and protect them from any harmful threats.