KUCHING: Pet lover Diana Girim does not mind making additional trips to vaccinate her dogs against the rabies outbreak as her priority is to take good care of her ‘furbabies’.
The 36-year-old has two dogs, Puppy and Bobo, and four cats, Miko, Oyen, Ella and Pippa.
“The first time I brought them for rabies vaccination was in October last year during the free rabies vaccination drive by the government at Serian community hall, and the next is in a few months’ time at Makmal Vet Serian.”
Diana, who is a teacher, strongly supports the programme, pointing out that not everyone can afford to bring their dogs for vaccination.
Aside from that, she also praised the government for going the extra mile by going to houses of pet owners who are unable to bring their dogs to the designated rabies vaccination venue, as not everyone has transportation or cages to bring their dogs.
“As rabies is contagious, dog owners must bring their dogs for vaccination which will not only keep their dogs safe, but also people safe,” she stressed.
Another dog owner, Audie Chua, 58, brought his dogs for rabies vaccination on his own initiative.
“I brought my dogs Se7en and Joyful to City Vet within the first week of the rabies outbreak in 2017 as I worried for them. Back then, the free rabies vaccination had yet to roll out,” he recalled.
The business entrepreneur said he will be bringing his dogs back to the vet once their first rabies vaccine is up. The vaccination lasts for one year.
While he acknowledged that the government’s initiative to address rabies is good, he felt that it should also be intensified.
“We are very wary of rabies but we will be able to contain it if everyone plays their part.”
Meanwhile, all is not a bed of roses for Queennie Cheng, 34, whose dog Clinton went missing during the anti-rabies operation, and not a day goes by without her thinking of and missing him.
Her dog went missing on Jan 17, 2018 and she tried every means possible to track down her two-year-old purebred pitbull – from checking with the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) to posting on Facebook about her missing dog – but her efforts proved to be fruitless.
The only conclusion she could come up with was that it was caught and put to sleep as it had happened during the anti-rabies operation carried out by DVS under the State Disaster Management Committee.
“I got Clinton after I was robbed. My guard dog may be big-sized but he’s friendly, gentle and very obedient. He has never harmed anyone in my area.
“Every evening I will walk him in the park and most of the people in the area know him,” she said when interviewed.
Cheng said her dog was chained using a custom-made steel chain which he broke loose from and also managed to break through the fence.
“It was mating season then and because he was not neutered, he probably got excited over a female dog in heat outside the compound,” she surmised, adding that Clinton was registered with MPP and wore a valid council dog tag on the collar.
Cheng was unaware that her dog had been caught by a dog catcher and by the time her neighbour informed her, it was already late at night and the council and DVS were closed.
She went to the council and DVS a few times to look for Clinton and even held a press conference to find out what happened to him.
She said both MPP and DVS denied catching her pet.
“It is a pain in my heart losing him. He saved my life once when I fell down the stairs.
“I was unconscious and he licked my face and pulled my hair to wake me up. He was an amazing dog and a good companion.”
Touching back on the press conference held in January last year with the help of then Stampin MP Julian Tan, Cheng said all she wanted was to know the status of her dog but the authorities kept her in the dark.
She recalled being told that dog owners have 48 hours to claim their dogs if they are captured by the local councils.
“In this case, where is my 48 hours? Where is my dog? If I’m not allowed to see my dog, at least give me an answer, even if my dog is dead.
“Ever since my dog was captured that day, no one from either MPP or DVS contacted me.”
Rabies in Sarawak fact box
- Number of human fatalities – 18
- Number of rabies-infected areas – 62
- Number of stray animals removed (culled) since commencement of integrated anti-rabies operations from March 1 — 6,725 stray dogs and 61 cats.
- Dogs vaccinated (from July 1, 2017 until June 30) – 100,599
- Cats vaccinated (from July 1, 2017 until June 30) – 8,541lOther animals vaccinated (from July 1 until June 30) – 57
- Reported animal bites due to fear of rabies infection (from July 1 until June 30) – 28,988
- Number of people receiving anti-rabies vaccination (from July 1 until June 25) – 9,735
- Number of rabies-positive samples collected from animals (from Jan 1 to June 30) – 77 (68 dogs and 9 cats)