Targeted stray dog removal continues, vaccination campaign intensifies as Sarawak’s rabies-infected divisions rise to four

A pet owner bringing his dog for rabies vaccination. The programme was held as part of the City Cleanliness Month at MBKS Community Hall on July 1, 2023.

KUCHING, Feb 21: Targeted removal of stray dogs will continue to be carried out by respective local councils throughout Sarawak to reduce the stray population.

Minister of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom emphasised that the target for this year is to vaccinate 50,000 dogs.

“Additionally, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Sarawak and Sarawak Security and Enforcement Unit (UKPS) will intensify the anti-rabies vaccination programmes throughout Sarawak,” he said in a statement today.

This decision follows Samarahan and Serian being declared as the latest divisions to be infected with rabies, following the detection of rabies-positive tests of animals there. This brings the total number of divisions in Sarawak declared as rabies-infected areas to four, with Kuching and Bintulu divisions retaining this status.

Dr!Rundi highlighted that since 2017, DVS Sarawak and the Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET) have vaccinated a cumulative total of 247,267 dogs across Sarawak.

“As for 2023, the team successfully vaccinated 37,254 out of the targeted 40,000 dogs,” he said.

Reminding that anti-rabies vaccination of pets is mandatory under Section 40 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance (VPHO) 1999, Dr Rundi warned that pet owner or persons-in-charge of dogs who fail to comply are guilty of an offence and may be compounded up to RM1,000.

“Dog owners must be responsible to ensure that their pets are vaccinated with anti-rabies vaccine, apart from requirement to obtain licence and microchipping from their respective councils.

“Pet owners are advised to neuter their pets in order to prevent unwanted litters,” he stressed.

In addition, he also warned that owners allowing their dogs to roam freely on the streets may face fines not exceeding RM2,500 under Section 37 of VPHO 1999.

The local authority may seize and impound any unleashed dogs in accordance with the Local Authorities (Dog Licensing and Control) by-laws, 2018.

“Dog owners must keep their dogs under effective control by confining them within an enclosed area from which escape is impossible,” he added. — DayakDaily