Activists oppose rabies test on beagles
By Joy Lee, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Animal activists yesterday strongly opposed the Council of Agriculture's (COA) plan to use 14 beagle puppies to conduct a rabies experiment that will take place next week.
August 17, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
According to the COA, 14 healthy and lively beagle puppies will be chosen to be bitten by ferret-badgers that are affected with rabies in order to find out if the rabies virus discovered in Taiwan could also be transmitted to dogs.
The COA said that during the experiment, if the puppies develop symptoms of rabies, like anxiety, irregular drooling and offensive behavior, the puppies will be euthanized immediately for anatomical study.
Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) said that when this news was posted on the organization's Facebook page, thousands of people agreed to sign a petition to protest against the idea within hours.
Ni Ching-tai, a volunteer of the ARTT, said that many people left comments to criticize the COA's plan to use live puppies for experiment.
“If the COA wished to have a valuable test result from the experiment,” Ni said, “the council will need more samples. Moreover, even if the puppies involved in the experiment are not infected with the virus, it does not mean that the rabies virus discovered in Taiwan does not work on dogs.”
“What exactly can the COA prove by using 14 puppies for one experiment?” said Ni.
The ARTT said that the online protest will continue, and the COA should invite more experts to revaluate if the experiment is necessary.
Yeh Lih-seng (葉力森), a professor of veterinary medicine at National Taiwan University, said that it is already proven that the rabies virus can infect all warm-blooded animals, so it is completely unnecessary to conduct another experiment that could sacrifice 14 innocent puppies' lives.
“In order for the result of this experiment to be legitimate,” Yeh said, “the COA will require the use of over 100 dogs as samples.”
“Just like only 40 percent of humans will develop symptoms of rabies after being bitten or scratched by animals infected with the rabies virus,” Yeh said, “not every dog will develop rabies symptoms after being infected. Therefore, it is unnecessary to conduct an experiment specifically for this.”
Necessary to Sacrifice: COA
The COA yesterday said that all the rabies cases with the exception of one in Taiwan were ferret-badgers and experiments are required to find out if the rabies virus can infect other animals.
Tsai Hsiang-jng of the COA said that the rabies viruses found in Taiwan ferret-badgers and Chinese ferret-badgers had certain genetic differences, so it is necessary to sacrifice a few animals' lives for experimentation.
According to the COA, currently 83 ferret-badgers and one house shrew have been confirmed to carry the rabies virus since the first case was discovered in early July.