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KUCHING, April 9: The anti-rabies operation held in Padawan District here from April 4-8 was deemed a success.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the operation, mounted by 379 officers and other personnel, managed to vaccinate 1,331 dogs.
At the same time, 1,271 strays were removed, he said after attending a post-mortem meeting on the operation at Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) today.
“Our objective in the operation was for 100 per cent vaccination rate for pet dogs, and we have achieved 73 per cent.
“We must congratulate all those involved for their success despite the many challenges and issues on the ground,” he said in a statement today.
Uggah, who is also Sarawak State Disaster Mangement Committee chairman, said the next round of operation would begin in Kota Samarahan tomorrow before moving to Kuching (April 21-May 2).
“We have given clear instructions to the teams that our objective is to again have 100 per cent vaccination of pet dogs and to remove the strays.
“We also reminded them that there should not be any tranquilising of dogs in house compounds.
“If the team approaches any dogs within the compound, it is for the purpose of vaccination, which is in line with our main objective,” he said.
Uggah said the co-operation and collaboration of dog owners were indispensable to ensure the fight against rabies would be successful and for Sarawak to be declared free of it soonest.
He commented that a video clip being circulated on social media that depicted the operation team as happy and ready to shoot anything on sight with the least of sympathy as giving the wrong impression.
“For those with the tendency to criticise or accuse us, please go to the ground and see how the teams do their jobs. They have their tasks to accomplish. There are pet dogs to be vaccinated and strays to be targeted for removal. They have their SOP to follow,” he said.
However, Uggah said he was happy to note the majority of the people were for the operations to be done and to continue.
“If you follow the social media postings, many do give us positive remarks, which encourage us in our operations,” he said.
In appealing to dog owners to co-operate in having their pets vaccinated Uggah said: “We are your friends. We are here to vaccinate your dogs. Stray dogs are very dangerous.”
He also announced the formation of a social media group to help explain the purpose of the operation and its benefits to the people.
Uggah hoped that it would help to expose the false accusations made.
Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Hui Kian, who was also present, said the anti-rabies operation was very challenging but a critical mission for the government.
He said there were still many people who misunderstood it.
Dr Sim explained the state government was not prohibiting people from keeping dogs.
“But keep them within your house compounds. Get them vaccinated as rabies is a deadly disease.
“Some owners have the perception that if they do not vaccinate their dogs, they will not die. On the other hand, if they get them vaccinated, they will die. But then this is a sign the dogs have been infected,” he said.
Dr Sim urged owners to re-vaccinate their dogs after a year had lapsed upon the animals’ last vaccination.
Meanwhile, DSP Collin Barat said the police had received 12 reports lodged by members of the public in Padawan and that only one investigation paper had been opened.
He said a man had also been arrested for trying to obstruct a team from carrying out their duties on April 7. He was released a day later.
“The man had taken video clips of them using his handphone, accusing them and using foul languages against them for tranquilising a dog that did not wear any vaccination tag,” he said.
Collin added that there had been attempts to sabotage the operation in Stephen Yong Road area, where iron nails were strewn on the road leading to a sewerage plant there. — DayakDaily