The rabies virus turns dogs into a feared enemy around the world. Why? Because 99% of all human rabies cases are caused by an infected dog bite. In rabies hotspots, one bite – or even a lick to broken skin – can lead to an unimaginable death. It's a horrifying fact. And one that often brings people and dogs head-to-head.
Stray dogs, of which 300 million roam our planet, pose a considerable risk to public health as free-roaming carriers of the fatal virus. In attempts to reduce the number of strays and halt the spread of disease, governments worldwide have tried to eliminate rabies the wrong way: culling. We know this is not only ineffective in protecting people and animals from rabies, but also incredibly inhumane. The dogs suffer and the disease continues to spread, leading to even more suffering.
Let us tell you why.
Mass culling of dogs doesn't tackle rabies at its source. Indiscriminate killing, in fact, removes the protective barrier created by vaccinated dogs and herd immunity, and allows new dogs to take their place. New dogs, who are possibly unvaccinated and even aggressive, can claim the territories and repopulate the areas, leaving whole communities vulnerable to disease.
The disease still claims an estimated 59,000 human lives a year, and countless dogs in the order of hundreds of thousands. Not only that, but the fear of rabies has destroyed the relationship between man and our so-called 'best friends.'
Most people want to help animals, but it's difficult to put a stray's life ahead of their own family. So, led by fear and influenced by the government's actions, some resort to drastic and deadly measures: getting rid of the dogs. Using rocks, axes and even poisons, they try to scare, harm or even kill unfamiliar dogs in their area – and in their minds, eliminate the threat of rabies. It's no wonder that stray dogs often find it difficult to trust people. How can they know if a person wants to feed and pet them – or hurt them?
Just like you, we believe that all dogs deserve to be loved, and all people deserve to feel safe. With your help, we're giving people and dogs a real chance at living alongside each other, as friends. Because it's rabies that's the enemy, not them.
Instead of mass culling, we're running mass vaccination and education campaigns in our fight against rabies. We're vaccinating hundreds of thousands of stray and owned dogs in rabies hotpots each year, enough to create herd immunity and a strong defence against the disease and tools to support governments throughout the world to achieve their own success stories. At the same time, we're teaching people, especially children, how to interact with dogs, avoid getting bitten and what to do if they are.
This is how we're eliminating rabies, but also repairing the relationship between people and dogs. Because we know, dogs really are man's best friend.
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