By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 3: Sarawak Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) will take drastic action against dog owners who let their pets roaming freely which would eventually lead them to become strays.
The warning came from State DVS director Dr Adrian Susin Ambun after Sarawak registered its 28th fatal rabies case today.
“We have continued to emphasise the importance for dog owners to take care of their pets, such as vaccinate them against rabies which is compulsory.
“However, we are still facing the threat of stray dogs which have been identified as one of the main carriers of rabies in Sarawak. It is clearly stipulated under Section 37 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999 and the Local Authorities (Dog Licensing & Control) By-Laws 2018.
“DVSS would like to remind that it is an offence under Section 37 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999 and the Local Authorities (Dog Licensing & Control) By-Laws 2018 to let dogs roam freely. Upon conviction, an individual can be fined not more than RM5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both,” Dr Adrian told Dayakdaily here today.
He reiterated that dogs roaming freely, especially in rabies-infected areas, would be caught as a preventive measure to curb the disease.
“Failure to do so can be convicted under Section 40 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999. A fine not exceeding RM2,500 will be imposed and the dog caught without proof of anti-rabies vaccination can be sent for targeted removal,” he said.
Dr Adrian stressed that under the local authorities’ requirement, every dog needs to be licensed under the Local Authorities (Dog Licensing & Control) By-Laws 2018 where offences can be fined not more than RM5,000.
Beside dogs, cats can also become rabid and be carriers of the deadly disease.
“We would like to emphasise that in our fight against Covid-19 pandemic, we must not let our guard down against rabies as well,” he advised.
He was commenting on the latest rabies victim, a 58-year-old man from Lundu who has been confirmed as the latest person who have died of rabies in Sarawak this year, which was announced by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today.
The victim passed away on Nov 25, 2020 and was diagnosed with rabies meningoencephalitis. The diagnosis was confirmed by a rabies positive laboratory test by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) the same day.
The deceased had a history of being bitten by a stray dog two years ago while hunting in the jungle, but he did not seek immediate treatment at any health facility.
The death is the seventh fatality from rabies in Sarawak this year. The previous case involved a 16-year-old girl who died at the SGH on Nov 11 and confirmed to be infected with the rabies virus the next day.
Another rabies case involving a three-year-old boy was also reported today and that the victim is still receiving treatment for the disease and was reported to be in stable condition.
Meanwhile, Dr Adrian assured that rabies is a treatable disease but not when it is already at the symptoms’ stage.
“So, anyone who has been bitten by their pet dog(s) and cat(s) must seek medical attention immediately,” he advised.
Symptoms of rabies include body pain, weakness, sore throat with difficulty in eating and drinking. -DayakDaily