Rabies: SOS Kuching calls for positive community approach, urges authorities to work closely with animal rescue group

SOS Kuching president Kitty Chin (centre) holds up an informative poster on its TNVR programme flanked by SOS Kuching treasurer Sim Swee Sia (left) and committee member Kimberly Lim (right).​

KUCHING: Save Our Strays Kuching Association (SOS Kuching) is calling upon the authorities to communicate and work closely with them in resolving the stray animals and rabies issue in the city.

Association president Kitty Chin said SOS Kuching has been receiving many complaints from members of the public through its Facebook page regarding how the authorities were handling the capturing and culling of stray and free-roaming dogs recently, and the association could not give definite answers or solutions to the public as the association had been kept in the dark.

“Members of the public are raising their voices on our Facebook page because they are upset. We do not condone hateful comments and violence, but unfortunately we do not regulate or keep tabs on members of the public commenting on our Facebook page,” she told a press conference at Jalan Song here today.

Chin was referring to a threatening post on the association’s Facebook page a couple of days ago which had been reported to the police. She pointed out that upset members of the public were just venting out their anger on social media.

“We would like to urge the government and authorities to communicate and work closely with us on this rabies issue because we received many enquiries and complaints from the public on our Facebook page, but we could not give them definite answers,” she added.


Chin said among the public complaints and enquiries received were from pet owners who were upset that although the authorities mentioned that caught dogs would be held for 48 hours for the owners to reclaim them, some dogs and pets were put down before the deadline was up.

“These complainants were very upset. But we could not confirm it because we do not know. So if the authorities approach us, we are more than willing to assist in any way we can. Our association consists of volunteers only. Each of us has a day job,” she said.

Chin also urge the authorities to rethink their strategies to combat rabies in the city. She said vaccinating the strays would be more effective and cost-effective compared to culling.

She explained that vaccinated dogs would be the frontliners of the battle against rabies because these rabies-immune dogs could help deter animals that were infected, by creating a vaccinated buffer zone as dogs are territorial animals.

“Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease. Vaccinating dogs is the most cost-effective strategy in preventing rabies from infecting people. Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to rabies and the need for post-exposure prophylaxis as a part of dog bite patient care,” Chin said, citing the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We truly hope that the authorities will enforce active vaccination programmes not only for pets but also for strays to combat rabies,” she added.

SOS Kuching president Kitty Chin

Since the rabies outbreak in the state surfaced in July last year, SOS Kuching has been actively carrying out anti-rabies vaccination programmes. The strays that have been vaccinated have dedicated feeders (members of the public who feed them). These strays are rabies-free.

A press statement from SOS Kuching highlighted that these animals and their feeders were the first line of defence in the fight against rabies, and the animals’ survival was crucial in preventing rabid animals from entering the neighbourhoods they are living in.

To date, SOS Kuching has vaccinated, neutered and rehomed close to a thousand animals, dogs and cats, under its Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (TNVR) programme.

The association in the press statement also advised the public to help in keeping the vaccinated strays safe by giving them shelter or adopting them. — DayakDaily