Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation – whose stray animal CNVR programme (Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return) is the largest of its kind in the world – has endorsed the recent announcement by Dr. Tares Kassanairawiwong, the Director General of the Department of Disease Control, of the intention to work together with the Department of Livestock Development and the Department of Local Administration towards making Phuket the first rabies-free province in Thailand.
Several leading authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), agree that the most effective way to eliminate rabies in humans is to eliminate it in dogs. Vaccinating 70% of dogs in an area will result in the elimination of rabies. It is a similar situation with reducing stray dog numbers; neutering 80% of dogs in an area will lead to a sustained reduction in numbers, as long as a maintenance programme is kept up. This is provided that vaccinated and neutered dogs are left in place to build up herd immunity and prevent new, unneutered dogs taking over a territory.
Soi Dog’s CNVR Director, Dr. Tuntikorn Rungpatana, says this is precisely how the foundation’s large-scale programme works. Data collected by Soi Dog indicates that more than 80% of stray dogs on the island province have already been neutered and vaccinated as the foundation has strived for many years to help eliminate the deadly disease.
“Soi Dog is willing to work with all sectors to help make Phuket the first rabies-free province in Thailand, and we are thrilled at the latest announcement,” stated Dr. Tuntikorn.
Since Soi Dog’s inception in 2003, the nonprofit organisation has cooperated with government agencies and the wider Phuket public on dealing with the perceived issues caused by stray dogs and cats, including the setting up of mobile spay/neuter and vaccination clinics in each of the island’s sub-districts and the establishment of community outreach and humane education programmes whose intention it is to teach local communities and schoolchildren how to interact with stray animals. Soi Dog has for many years also carried out vaccination and regular health checks of the dogs housed at the government-operated stray dog shelter. The recent announcement is a further step in the right direction as the effort to eliminate rabies can only be successful through a wider collaboration.
“Soi Dog Foundation acknowledges that the problem of stray animals cannot be solved by a single agency alone, but rather requires collaboration from all sectors,” said Dr. Tuntikorn.
The Director General of the Department of Disease Control and relevant departments are scheduled to hold a meeting in Phuket in July to discuss further, with Dr. Tuntikorn joining as Soi Dog’s representative. A visit to the Soi Dog shelter will also take place so all parties can learn more about the foundation’s CNVR programme.
Soi Dog has worked tirelessly for twenty years to help Thailand become rabies free and, last year alone, the foundation’s community outreach and humane education programmes saw over 10,000 animals treated and almost 11,000 children reached respectively. The nonprofit also continues to ramp up its efforts to eliminate rabies with the recent expansion of its CNVR programme to 14 teams, covering the entire Bangkok metropolitan area and southern Thai provinces, and anticipates passing the milestone later this year of one million dogs and cats reached nationwide by the programme since 2003.