The Department of Livestock Development (DLD) is giving assurances to the Soi Dog Foundation that the department will not follow a policy of “Set Zero” – wiping out all stray dogs in Thailand.
The assurance that there will be no countrywide slaughter came from the DLD’s Director of the Division of Veterinary Quarantine and Inspection, Dr Burin Sorasithisooksakul.
It came after a social-media-fueled fear of a rabies outbreak across many parts of the country leading some people to call for a ‘final solution’ to be applied to Thailand’s estimated 8 million street dogs.
In a private meeting with Soi Dog’s Special Project Coordinator, Ms Varaporn Jittanonta, Dr Burin stressed that the DLD does have the legal right to destroy dogs believed or suspected to be rabid.
However, the department will form a commission to decide on means and ways of continuing to control rabies in Thailand. The commission, he said, will include representatives of the public and NGOs.
In addition, he said that he had scheduled an urgent meeting of provincial-level livestock officials to review control and prevention procedures.
When laboratory tests confirm a case of rabies in a certain area, a Rabies Outbreak Zone will be declared in that area.
Mass free vaccinations will be carried out in the zone by the DLD and local authorities, Dr Burin said, adding that NGOs will be urged to help.
All dogs and cats without owners living within a radius of one kilometre of where the infected animal was found will be impounded for at least a month for observation.
Stray dogs and cats outside that radius, but within five kilometres, will be vaccinated and kept under observation for at least a month.
Dogs and cats that have owners must be re-vaccinated and kept strictly within the owner’s premises for at least a month.
Once the impounded dogs and cats are declared rabies-free they will be neutered and may be claimed by feeders or other interested people, or offered for adoption.
Dr Burin appealed for cooperation from all people involved and from NGOs in order to eliminate rabies from Thailand by a target date of 2023.
He also promised that the DLD will continue to listen to people’s views and urged people not to panic.
He added that he understands the power of social media but urged people to be sure of the facts before sharing posts. The DLD will make contact details for its offices more readily available so that people can request accurate information at any time.
The DLD has offices in all 77 provinces and 878 districts in Thailand. The website (in Thai and English) is HERE.
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