GARC releases statement on dog culling for rabies control
Stories appear with alarming regularity in the international media about authorities carrying out mass stray dog culling in response to rabies cases. Attracting fewer headlines is the high frequency of routine culling carried out month after month, and year after year aiming to curb rabies in stray dog populations. In a recent article, World Animal Protection suggested that perhaps 10 million dogs are culled across the globe in the name of rabies control every year.
There is no doubt that stray dogs present many problems to public safety and environmental health, and it is no surprise that there are frequent calls for authorities to do something about the problem. Often rabies gets caught up in the more general debate around free roaming dogs and dog overpopulation, and a rabies outbreak can be the tipping point at which authorities decide to respond.
Superficially, it may seem that reducing the dog population would help limit the spread of rabies, but the desire for authorities to be seen to be doing something hides a more worrying truth. Indiscriminate dog culling is simply not an effective way of controlling rabies, and worse, it undermines the development of a longer term solution that would work. Additionally, the use of culling can frequently result in a backlash from the community, especially if inhumane methods are used.
To support those fighting for effective rabies control in their communities, GARC has prepared a statement for the End Rabies Now campaign on the use of dog culling in rabies control. This statement sets out the reasons why indiscriminate mass culling doesn’t work, it describes the damage that culling can do to future control efforts, and it suggests more effective alternatives in response to a rabies outbreak centred on canine vaccination. These alternatives, as part of a longer term strategy, will see communities eliminate the threat of rabies for dogs and people alike.
You can find the statement on the End Rabies Now website here.
Contributed by Louise Taylor, Scientific Director of GARC.