Activists push other rabies measures over experiments: SPCA
By Joy Lee, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) issued a statement yesterday to ask the government to replace the policy of conducting rabies experiments on animals with TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, release) to better prevent rabies from further spreading from ferret-badgers and house shrews to other animals.
August 29, 2013, 11:43 am TWN
The Council of Agriculture (COA) announced on Aug. 14 that 14 healthy and lively beagle puppies will be chosen to be bitten by ferret-badgers that are infected with rabies in order to find out if the virus strain discovered in Taiwan can be transmitted to dogs. The plans have triggered protests from animal activists and some experts.
The SPCA said that in order to prevent the rabies virus from infecting other animals, the government should first confirm survival rights for stray animals, which are not stated in the Animal Protection Act.
“The COA ignored the suggestions from domestic and international animal protection organizations and insisted on capturing stray animals and placing them in animal shelters for adoption,” the SPCA said, “which is not the best measure for the welfare for those animals.”
According to the SPCA, Humane Society International's India branch said that the Indian Government already showed support toward TNVR and said that it is a humane and respectful measure to control a possible rabies epidemic.
Rahul Sehgal, director of Humane Society International Asia, said that releasing stray animals that have received vaccinations can definitely help prevent rabies from spreading to other areas while placing stray animals in shelters actually gives the rabies virus a better opportunity to infect other animals.
The SPCA said that the COA should refer to the policy that South American countries do, which is only capturing stray animals that show signs of rabies instead of capturing all stray animals and euthanatizing them when no one adopts them.
“From the standpoint of rabies prevention,” the SPCA said, “capturing all stray animals is meaningless and a waste of budget and human resources.”
According to the SPCA, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said that using cell cultures to conduct tests on the rabies virus is better than conducting experiments on animals because the cost is lower and the result can be collected sooner.
The OIE also said that no matter what type of rabies virus is found in Taiwan or other countries, the best way to control rabies is by allowing all pets and stray animals to receive vaccinations.
The SPCA said that the government should refer to advice from international and domestic animal protection organizations and experts and reconsider if it is really necessary to conduct rabies experiments on innocent animals.