Local authorities equipped with animal control vehicles to battle ongoing rabies epidemic

Dr Sim (third left) gives his thumb up after checking one of the three cages fitted in the animal control vehicle.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Mar 4: Twenty six local authorities throughout Sarawak were provided with a customised double cabin pick-up truck each to strengthen rabies control efforts in Sarawak.

Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian handed over 26 customised animal control vehicles to the local authorities in a simple ceremony at Kuching South City Council (MBKS) headquarters here today.

As Sarawak faced several challenges, situations and issues currently, he reminded the public to not let their guard down on rabies as the disease was still around.

“Rabies has cost the Sarawak and Malaysian governments a lot of money since the outbreak in (July) 2017 and unnecessary loss of lives.

“But with all the awareness, there are still over 300 dog bite cases being recorded monthly. I am wondering if people never learnt from such critical situation,” he addressed the ceremony today.

Dr Sim emphasised that everyone must do their part to assist the state government in eradicating rabies so that Sarawak could be free of human rabies by 2022.

“We are on track to achieve our target but with so many critical events happening right now, we don’t want the awareness about rabies to quietly drop. The efforts are ongoing and we hope to decrease the number of dog bite cases in the state.

“As such, to strengthen action in rabies control, the state government provide all the 26 local councils in Sarawak with vehicles, which cost RM3.37 million, to assist them in carrying out rabies operation effectively and safely,” he explained.

The animal control vehicle is equipped with three cages and a motorised system for uploading and offloading.

He also urged people to be responsible pet owners by ensuring their pet dogs were vaccinated annually, register for licenses and keep them within the house compound.

“Rabies vaccination for dogs is now free so there should not be any excuse not to get your dogs vaccinated. Don’t wait until something bad happens and then put the blame elsewhere,” he advised.

Dr Sim added that there were three dog pounds each in Miri, Sibu and Padawan as temporary shelters for dogs captured from the streets.

“The dogs will be put there until the owners come and claim them, otherwise they will be sent to the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS),” he said.

Meanwhile, the state government with the cooperation of various agencies had come up with strategies and placed various measures to combat the rabies disease which was declared a Level 2 disaster in January 2019.

Until November 2019, there were 22 confirmed human rabies cases in Sarawak, including 21 deaths. —DayakDaily

Dr Sim checking out the animal control vehicle equipped with a motorised system and three cages
Dr Sim (fourth left) handing over the mock key for the animal control vehicle to Antonio who received on behalf of the 26 local councils. Also seen are Dr Penguang (third left) and Wee (third right).