KUCHING, Sept 5 ― Sarawak aims to be a rabies-free state within three years, state Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said today.
But he added that the state government must have the full support of pet owners and other stakeholders.
“That is a our target and to do that we have a lot of things that need to be carried out,” he told reporters after opening the 20th World Congress of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants (CICIAMS) here.
He said the Health Department, local councils, Veterinary Services Department, Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Save Our Strays have been collaborating and cooperating with the state government in the fight to contain the spread of the outbreak.
He said these include free vaccination to dogs and cats and educating the owners to take care of their pets.
He said since the beginning of this month, a major anti-rabies operation has been launched to remove stray dogs from the streets and housing estates, especially in Kuching.
Uggah, who is also the state disaster management committee chairman, said samples taken from stray dogs have been tested positive for rabies.
“Most of the samples were taken from certain parts of Kuching which have declared as black areas,” he said, adding that Kuching, being the state capital, must be kept free of rabies.
Rabies outbreak, which started from a border longhouse in Serian Division in June last year, have claimed 13 lives, mostly children.
Uggah urged the local media to be more responsible in their reporting on rabies and the efforts to remove stray dogs from the streets.
“A newspaper report that the Veterinary Services Department put to sleep stray dogs caught in Kuching streets by drowning them in water tanks is false,” he said, referring to the New Sarawak Tribune's report yesterday.
He said he personally made surprise checks on the department's premises after he had heard of rumours, but it was to be unfounded.
Uggah said the department has every right to lodge a police report yesterday against the reporter and the newspaper for publishing the “unsubstantiated” report.
“There are a lot of dog lovers in Sarawak. That news is an instigation and you don't know what dog lovers, in anger, will do the department's staff,” he said.
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