|Barked: Wed Dec 20, '06 3:02pm PST |
|The news of a government-ordered onslaught in late July that killed 50,000 dogs in Mouding County in Yunnan Province in southwestern China, and reports of an impending second dog kill in east China's Shandong Province, mark a terrible stage in a long-running debate over effective rabies control in the developing world. The brutality and scope of the five-day Yunnan slaughter—which spared only military and police dogs—prompted waves of criticism both within and outside of China.
Reacting to the killing, Humane Society International, the global arm of The HSUS, urged the Chinese government to adopt humane and effective rabies prevention strategies. Citing its experience in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Indonesia, HSI also offered to assist Chinese government at all levels in efforts to avoid such an episode in the future.
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Summarizing HSI's position that indiscriminate mass killing of dogs is ineffective as a rabies control measure, HSUS CEO and President Wayne Pacelle wrote Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong that "a preventative program will work to safeguard public health related to rabies and at the same time preserve the integrity and positive image of China."
HSI has worked with officials and communities in a number of countries, seeking to persuade them of the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns over indiscriminate killing of animal populations. Unfortunately, such culls are still common in developing nations, where some health authorities have not yet recognized mass vaccination as the most reliable means for slowing or halting the spread of rabies.
HSI has also had to make this same point to the leaders of developed nations, as in the case of the U.S. Department of Defense, which has made mass slaughter of dogs its preferred option in Iraq since the American occupation began there in 2003. Two years after The HSUS and HSI first asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to institute a vaccination program in Iraq, where military veterinarians are in place and could demonstrate the value of alternate approaches, the killing of strays and unmanaged pets continues unabated.
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