Saturday, April 20

Yes, let’s catch the bull by the horns


‘Call me Lucky, CNVR.’

NO, it’s the dogs – those strays roaming the streets, the housing estates, the eateries; these are the targets.

Dogs have always been associated with rabies as Anopheles mosquitoes with malaria.

Catch, vaccinate and neuter those strays; these, the authorities have assured the dog lovers, are not to be culled. They are called CNVR dogs once they have undergone the procedure.

The war is actually being waged on the rabies as the disease, not the dogs as such. And not every dog has been infected.

There is assurance from the authorities that there’s enough time – 30 days – for dog owners to get their pets properly vaccinated, registered with the council (identified by the colour of the collars). Then they will keep their pets within the compound of the house.

Feed your pets well. One more thing: they may like to get advice on family planning for Cho Choor Blackie from their favourite vets as well.

The objective of the exercise is to prevent the spread of the dreadful disease among dogs before there is an epidemic in the state.

The next species in danger is the homo sapiens – you and me.

Already, it has caused a dozen precious human lives in the State and we cannot afford to lose more innocent lives.

I must salute the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) for its prompt action in mobilising all the forces at its command to prevent possible spread of rabies to other areas in Sarawak and eventually to protect or immunise the carriers. The aim is to make Sarawak rabies-free!

In the capital, the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) has been on the frontline in this fight for the whole month of September.

Kuching is the war zone. Teams of dogcatchers have been mobilised in certain locations since D-Day. The Padawan Municipal Council is in this campaign too.

The border between the councils is porous and to the dogs the world is borderless. What about areas in the other local authorities, namely the Kuching North (DBKU)? Are they rabies free?

And in all the other local councils in the state – aren’t there any dogs with rabies there at all?

In Sibu the anti-rabies programme will continue until Nov 2. We must commend this group of civic-minded people who organise teams to vaccinate dogs at various centres in Sibu as well as those dogs found along the roadsides and houses, long and short ones, in certain parts of Kanowit. This is great. Salute!

Catching stray dogs roaming the streets and near housing areas is not something new in Sarawak. The old Miri Municipal Council got rid of stray dogs by using blowpipes. The strategy worked. The blow pipes are excellent weapons if handled by experts. Otherwise, they may not be used. I have seen dog catching operations in Kuching without the blowpipes. The catchers have the skill, equipped with the necessary tools, and are closely supervised by senior council officials.

During the campaign, I talked to a couple of catchers and learned something: extraordinarily, dogs are getting smarter these days. I was told that dogs can sense danger miles away. They start howling to warn their own kind of incoming trucks of dog catchers. Hide away, mates!

They can even discern the noise from the truck that the catchers use from that made by an ordinary truck or vehicle. My informants doggedly believe that dogs have an instinct of survival like the elephants. I don’t know.

In this war, cooperation between the council officials and members of the public especially the dog owners is important.

The councils are doing their job for the sake of the health of all rate payers and visitors to the city alike. Say thank you to them.

The city people in Kuching are lucky to have around them people who volunteer to work for the Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and Save Our Strays (SOS).

It is good to see that the government’s effort to prevent the spread of rabies has been complemented by the volunteers from these NGOs.

In return, what they expect from the authorities is some help in terms of some shelter for all dogs (and stray cats), a properly- run home with a clinic, funded by aid from the government as well as by public donations.

That’s a fair request.


I read that even the Police and the Army might be roped in to help in the Canine War. Was that really necessary?

Tourists not to worry

Think of what the tourists to the state might say when they notice unusually many people in army fatigue in September. Visitors to the city are advised not to be unduly worried. There’s no insurgency; there’s no dictatorship to topple, only diseased dogs to round up, vaccinate and neuter. We want a very safe city for all visitors. So come one, come all!

A code of conduct

At this juncture, I wish to address the dog owners in my neighbourhood. I don’t really know how to get across this message without hurting their feelings. I don’t know how to stop their dogs from barking and howling in the middle of the night, sometimes in the unholy hours of the morning, and disturbing their neighbours’ sleep.

Hopefully, this plagiarism from the play ‘Julius Caesar’ by William Shakespeare would help. Brutus, justifying the murder of Caesar, said “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”.

Can we, the dog lovers, reach a gentleman’s agreement by observing a code of conduct along the Brutus’ line: “Not that we love our dogs less, but that we love our neighbours more” – with effect from tonight. Can?

Today may be the end of the official anti-rabies campaign but not the end of vigilance for signs of resurgence of the disease in your neighbourhood. The Director of Veterinary Services has advised that it is necessary for your pet dogs to be vaccinated annually. Dog lovers, heed his advice.

From today on, we hope to see the absence of stray dogs around the table when you are out for a meal in several of the open and semi open eateries in and around Kuching City.

Thirty days has been enough time for the dog owners in Kuching to get their pets licensed, vaccinated, and neutered.

Now pat ourselves on the back – we have done a marvellous job in helping to keep our neighbourhood free from the stray dogs and from rabies. Pay tribute to the War Council (SDMC) and its allies (the councils) as well as to the dog lover fraternity for a job well done in difficult circumstances.

The cruel method of culling has largely been avoided. Culling should be the last resort, if all humane efforts fail. Remember that among the dog owners are young children and these kiddies can be greatly traumatised if their pets are infected with rabies and then put to sleep or when their parents get into trouble with the by-law.

Needless to say that getting the child to understand the importance of health for the pet and its owner is the primary job of the parents or minders.

The importance of cooperation and understanding between all parties concerned cannot be over-emphasized in this anti-rabies campaign. Such cooperation does not end with the campaign.

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