World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

September 28, 2011 07:59 ET

WSPA Demands Collars Not Cruelty in the Fight Against Rabies

A Global Campaign to Protect Animals and Communities Launches on World Rabies Day (Sept 28)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2011) -

Editors Note: There are two photos and a video associated with this release.

Every year, more than 55,000 people around the world die from rabies. Twenty million dogs are also brutally killed every year and fear of rabies is often used as the excuse. That's 38 dogs killed every minute. People think it will stop rabies. It doesn't. Today, on World Rabies Day, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is calling for Collars Not Cruelty and asking governments worldwide to tackle rabies through the only humane and effective solution: mass vaccination of dogs.

"Rabies poses a serious threat to both human and animal populations in many parts of the world," said Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director, WSPA. "When confronted with the problem of this fast-spreading disease, national governments sometimes turn to what they believe is the only way to wipe out rabies: wipe out the dog population. However, a world without rabies does not have to mean a world without dogs."

"I think it's absolutely horrific that 20 million dogs are killed every year because of the fear of rabies when there is an alternative solution," said WSPA celebrity supporter Leona Lewis. "I really want to help WSPA spread the word worldwide and end the cruelty that is happening at the moment. By educating people and getting vaccinations out there, we're not only helping dogs, but entire communities."

Over the past several years, WSPA has led many successful rabies control projects in Bali, Sri Lanka and several Latin American countries – all of which provided a humane and sustainable alternative to killing the dog population in response to rabies. As part of the Collars Not Cruelty campaign, the organization will work to implement similar mass vaccination projects in other areas of the world. WSPA is currently working on a new project in Bangladesh, where it is supporting the national government in implementing a large-scale vaccination campaign in the town of Cox's Bazar. The effort will save thousands of dogs in its first year alone and pave the way for a nation-wide vaccination campaign.

"We look forward to working with WSPA," said Professor Be-Nazir Ahmed, Director of Disease Control, Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. "We will proceed in a united way to eliminate rabies without the need to cull dogs."

WSPA strongly advocates that animal welfare agencies work in close partnership with human health, education and social welfare agencies to eradicate rabies. It is widely accepted that the only truly effective solution for rabies control relies on a combination of dog vaccination, community education for bite prevention and accessible post-exposure treatment for bite victims. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described such vaccination campaigns as "globally, the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people."

Success in Bali: Vaccinating more than 210,000 dogs against rabies

WSPA's mass vaccination program involves teams of trained animal handlers who immunize dogs against rabies and give them a red collar. These red-collared dogs become a symbol of proactive measures being taken to protect communities from rabies - without resorting to cruelly killing dogs.

The vaccination program on the Indonesian island of Bali demonstrates the most recent success of the solution proven by WSPA. In partnership with the Balinese government, the first island-wide mass vaccination program, launched on World Rabies Day last year. In the first phase of the campaign, approximately 210,000 dogs (70 per cent of the total estimated population) were vaccinated. In the first six months we saw dog (45 per cent) and human (48 per cent) rabies cases down by almost 50 per cent.

"Our work in Bali offered proof that a humane alternative for rabies control was both practical and effective. Other governments are beginning to recognize this success, and we are now working in several countries to design similar models for rabies control," said Ray Mitchell. "With the increasing support we are receiving from governments, international agencies and inter-governmental bodies; WSPA is confident we can create a world where we see collars – not cruelty – winning the fight against rabies."

About the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

The World Society for the Protection of Animals seeks to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended. Active in more than 50 countries, we work directly with animals and with the people and organizations that can ensure animals are treated with respect and compassion. For more information, visit us at; follow us on Twitter or 'Like' us on Facebook.

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