Five wins for dogs in the fight against rabies, and inhumane culling

We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of World Rabies Day by taking a look back at the amazing changes our Better Lives for Dogs campaign has made for dogs. Thanks to incredible supporters like you,

A long-standing disease

Rabies was first documented in 2000 BC. It is one of the oldest known diseases.

The virus is most commonly transmitted through the bite of a dog. The virus then spreads throughout the central nervous system and hijacks the brain.

These symptoms are the first sign of death.

Despite the fact that rabies is completely preventable, thousands still die each year from it.

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The forgotten victims

Rabies causes dogs to die from a painful and violent death. Many millions of dogs are also subject to cruelty by governments and communities that fear the disease.

We have been fighting to stop the cruel and inhumane killing of dogs for rabies since 2011.

Building better lives for dogs

These are just five of the biggest campaigns for dogs that we have launched since Better lives for Dogs.

More than one million vaccinations for dogs: We’ve worked with governments from Sierra Leone to Philippines to give more than one million dog rabies vaccines. This has meant that many people have been protected against rabies and that many dogs have been spared from violent culls.

Zanzibar has been placed on the path of eliminating rabies permanently: Zanzibar houses 10,000 dogs. Prior to our intervention, dogs were shot randomly in an attempt to stop rabies outbreaks. We supported the government’s efforts to vaccinate dogs on the island and encourage responsible dog ownership. Since 2013, there have not been any human rabies cases on the island. Dogs are also no longer being culled to try and control the disease.

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Kenya announces Africa’s first ever strategy to eradicate rabies. Kenya is responsible for approximately 2,000 cases of human rabies. Prior to this, rabies outbreaks were treated with ineffective, random vaccinations of dogs and shooting or poisoning.

We worked closely with the government in 2014 to develop a humane strategy for eliminating the disease via vaccination and population control. To prove that this strategy works, we are currently working in Makueni, a county with one of the highest rates in Kenya.

We have vaccinated more than 50,000 dogs against Rabies so far and have trained 59 teachers and four Senior Education Officers, as well as four Veterinary and Livestock Extension officers on responsible dog ownership and dog bite prevention.

China’s dogs have a bright future: To prove that vaccination is better than inhumane culling dogs, we vaccinated more than 90,000. The proof is in the pudding: There have been no human rabies cases reported at any of the vaccination sites.

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These successes are being used to create national guidelines for controlling rabies in the country.

Ending dog poisoning in Bangladesh. Bangladesh used to have the highest number of human rabies cases worldwide. The Bangladeshi authorities responded by killing all dogs they could.

We lobby the government to end this ineffective, inhumane method. We have been working with the government since 2011 to vaccine hundreds of thousands of dogs. Human rabies deaths are on the decline.

We also tried to convince local governments that culling would not be included in rabies control. This means that no dogs will die from rabies.

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Future of rabies control

Major global organizations, including the World Health Organisation, committed to ending rabies by 2030 at the end of December 2015.

This goal is not yet attained. There are still many things to be done. We will continue to work where the dogs are most at risk.

We are currently working to save the lives of 100,000 Sierra Leone dogs. Rabies is a constant threat. The capital of the country, Freetown has one of Africa’s highest concentrations of stray dogs.