EVEN as a video clip on the “Set Zero” solution for stray dogs is going viral online amid the current rabies epidemic, southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province has come out to explain the necessity of having to get rid of some of these strays, Thai News Agency reported today (March 21).
At the same time the Livestock Department reported that the rabies epidemic has petered out in 14 provinces but is still ranging in 24 others.
The hot issue of “Set Zero” strategy being used to put street dogs to sleep, this has actually taken place at Wat Khao Pridi in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
The provincial Livestock Department officials explained that rabies is raging at 7 points in 5 districts.
They added that Wat Khao Pridi found that the disease had spread within its compound so the dogs were painlessly euthanized within a radius of 1 kilometer from the point where it had started.
From 1 to 5 kilometers, the stray dogs were vaccinated by provincial officials.
Meanwhile the Soi Dog Foundation said there a simple rule: If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or cat, or if you have an open wound that has been licked by an animal, you should wash the area very thoroughly with soap and water then go straight to the nearest hospital to get anti-rabies shots. Then you won’t die.
And the Set Zero solution – getting rid of all the street dogs – is not a solution anyway.
Imagine if it ever became policy. Could it possibly work? Thailand has at least 8 million stray dogs. Could they all be slaughtered? Most unlikely and, even if they could be, try to imagine the global outcry at a predominantly Buddhist country, with its respect for life, introducing such a policy.
Or could they all be impounded? Where would 8 million dogs be locked up and looked after properly until they die of old age?
It is also important to note that, historically, more than 40% of the dogs that have been detected as being rabies-infected are pets with owners. These are not street dogs or strays and would therefore, presumably, not be included in any Set Zero campaign.
According to Dr. Peerapong Saichua, Permanent Secretary of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (in an interview with Matichon Newspaper in 2015), the figure of 40% is because owners had not taken the simple but crucial step of vaccinating their dogs. That still applies today.
Provinces where rabies is still raging include Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Prachin Buri, Rayong, Samut Prakarn, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sisaket, Surin, Ubol Ratchathani, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Mukdahan, Udon Thani, Chiang Rai, Nan, Petchabun, Prachuab Kriri Khan, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammart, Phathalung, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Sathun and Nonthaburi.
So this shows it is raging in all regions of the country.
The 14 provinces where there is good news that the epidemic has ended include Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chanthaburi, Buriram, Yasothon, Amnart Charoen, Nakhon Phanom, Mahasarakham Roi Et, Loei, Nong Khai, Petchabun, Samut Songkhram and Krabi.
Top: A stray dog on a street which has to be vaccinated. Photo: Thai News Agency
In-text: Officials vaccinating a stray dog. Photo: Thai News Agency
Thai News Agency report translated by ThaiResidents.com team with contribution by Nattha Thepbamrung in Phuket