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On responsible fur-parenthood and protection vs rabies

As a pet-owner, or in the modern slang a fur-parent, one needs not only proper knowledge on caring for their babies but there are responsibilities they must adhere to as well.
 
There are penalties for owners who refuse to abide by the law, in this case (pun intended), the Republic Act 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007. 
 
But being a responsible fur-parent not only entails following rules, this also means to get the pet vaccinated against rabies which may harm the owner, other people or the pet itself. 

Every 28th of September, the World Rabies Day is celebrated.
 
As part of the celebration, the City Veterinary Office of the Heritage City of Vigan prepared a two-day event.
 
The City Veterinarian, Dr. Rayeth Robeniol said during an interview for the Ammuentayo radio program of PIA-Ilocos Sur that the vaccination of dogs and cats against rabies is a regular program of their office.
 
“As our participation to the World Rabies Day, we will conduct free mass castration and spaying of dogs and cats, in addition to our regular services and programs, on September 30 to October 1, 2022 at the Regional Evacuation Center in Ayusan Sur, Vigan City,” said Dr. Robeniol.
 
During the interview, she mentioned there were no confirmed or recorded victims of rabies in the city in the previous years.
 
She attributed this to the activities of the city government in partnership with the City Health Office who provide post-exposure vaccines to those who get animal bites.
 
Rabies is a viral disease that is spread by an infected animal. 

Poster of the DOH for the celebration of the World Rabies Day 2022. (Photo from DOH)

The transmission occurs through bite, scratches or close contact with infected saliva from rabid animals. 
 
According to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), 40% of bite victims are children ages 14 and below, and around 250 to 300 Filipinos die of the disease annually. 
 
To protect pet-owners and help prevent rabies, she advised fur-parents to get their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies.
 
They can get the vaccine at three months of age and every year thereafter. 
 
Naturally, animals should be provided with proper nutrition, enough care and attention. 
 
Their spaces must be kept clean and comfortable, and they should be kept at home or on leash.
 
Letting animals roam freely on the streets poses risks not only to the pets but to the motorists as well.
 

When bitten by animals, the bureau advises to wash the wound with soap or detergent under running water for 15 minutes. 
 
The wound should also be disinfected with 70% alcohol or tincture of iodine. 
 
Finally, one should not skip immediately consulting a doctor or seeking the nearest Animal Bite Treatment Center. 
 
It may break the hearts of the fur-parents but they must confine or leash dogs or cats in the cage and observe them for 10 to 14 days. 
 
Contrary to what others may do, killing the animal is strongly opposed. 
 
If within those days the dog dies, BAI advises to seek assistance of a veterinarian for proper submission of specimens for rabies testing.
 
Moreover, there are a lot of myths that are going around about the viral disease. 
 
One is that rabies in puppies or kittens are more deadly, but the BAI debunks this and states that the disease is deadly no matter what age group they belong. 

Another is that the transition of rabies only occurs through bite of an infected animal but the truth is that it can also be transmitted through scratches, licking of wounds or close contact with the saliva of the infected animal.
 
There can be a lot of false narratives spreading through word-of-mouth, rather than believing blindly or following advice from non-experts in the particular field of study, would it not be more logical to seek help from veterinarians or physicians?
 
On the greater scale of things, victims of rabies, our adored pets crossing the rainbow bridge due to said disease and us having to face the grief of losing what we cherish can and will be prevented if we become responsible fur-parents. (JCR/AMB/ATV, PIA Ilocos Sur)

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Aila Villanueva

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