Dr. Renee Van Rheede Van Oudtshoorn established the Cullinan Animal Hospital in 2007. Here she uses every chance to educate the people coming in on the topic of rabies and vaccinates all animals. Additionally,
the CVS-SA and she regularly run mass sterilization and rabies campaigns. They provide free sterilizations and vaccinations to the animals in poor/rural areas where there is no/limited veterinary care or poverty does not allow veterinary care. As a cornerstone of her work, Dr. Van Rheede and her team each weekend visit communities in Gauteng for door-to-door-clinics, which include rabies vaccinations. These communities love their animals, but are often forced into choices of drowning/killing puppies/kittens as they cannot afford to feed their animals and have them sterilized.
When it comes to rabies, there are three main issues Dr. Van Rheede tries to tackle:
1. For one, there is poor knowledge of not just animal care, but rabies as zoonosis. The fear of rabies leads to thousands of animals being shunned from society or being brutally killed.
2. The reality is that people living in these communities need to walk 20-100+ km to the nearest clinic. As a result, they often do not only not get the post-bite care as needed, but are less likely to get their animals vaccinated.
3. Wildlife also plays an important role when it comes to the transmission of rabies. In many communities, the risk of rabies is more prevalent as there are jackals scavenging on the outskirts of the town. This is not only a risk to humans but also animals, as the townships’ animals are often free roaming and hunting animals.
Thus, Dr. Van Rheede and her team focus on human education through talks and holding classes for children in schools and rabies control through vaccinations as the main pillars of their projects. She also does guest lecturing and mentoring for veterinary students at local universities and colleges to educate them on rabies as a whole and the importance of understanding and handling it. She talks about how to prevent it as well as how to avoid dog bites, the appropriate response to dog bites and much more.
(Extract from nomination)
View 2019 World Rabies Day event