TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2012) - Each year 55,000 people worldwide die because of rabies. More then half of the victims are less then 15 years old. This fatal disease threatens 3.3 billion people in Asia and Africa and in 99 per cent of cases it is contracted from dogs. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) and many other organizations and individuals are battling against this fatal, but preventable, disease.
In an effort to control outbreaks of rabies and out of lack of better tools, many affected communities resort to cruel mass-killings of dogs by poisoning or beating the animals to death.
"Inhumane, mass dog culls not only fail to stop rabies epidemics, but they also leave deep psychological scars in the communities where these horrific culls occur," said Kate Atema, Director of the IFAW's Companion Animal Program. "Dog culls divert precious resources from addressing the root of the problem."
IFAW offers free rabies vaccination and educates community members about rabies and rabies prevention, for example in IFAW-led projects in Bali and South Africa, and right here in Canada.
Since 2002, each year IFAW's Northern Dogs Project takes a team of vets and educators to remote and underserved communities. As well as providing clinics for much-needed rabies vaccines and veterinary services, IFAW works with community members to create stable, healthy dog populations.
"We support communities to take responsibility and meet their animals' basic needs in a way that is locally appropriate and relevant to the community's own concerns," Atema continues. "Subsequently the number of rabies infections can decrease significantly, while animal welfare and community safety is improved. We can see these results in our projects."
Rabies infection in humans is caused by exposure to contaminated saliva, mostly due to dog bites.
In 2010 IFAW contributed to a project - jointly led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) - to vaccinate 270,000 dogs in Bali. This figure represents well over the 70 per cent of the Balinese dog population, a threshold that has been scientifically shown to stop a rabies epidemic. As a result of the campaign, Balinese rabies statistics showed marked decline of rabies cases in 2011.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.