GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 October) – Cases of dog bites have increased in the last nine months prompting the city government to step up its anti-rabies vaccination activities for pet dogs.
City veterinarian Dr. Antonio Marin said Friday they have expanded their vaccination activities to local communities that are considered critical in terms of the possible spread of the deadly virus.
He said such move was in response to the noted increase in the reported cases of dog bites within the city’s 26 barangays that averaged nearly 400 a month since January.
“Under the cities category, we are currently in the top five in terms of dog bites and one of the priority areas for rabies monitoring,” he said.
The animal bite center at the city hospital here already recorded a total of 4,397 cases of dog bites in the area from January to August.
In 2014, the reported animal bites among local residents reached 5, 830 cases.
In terms of rabies, the City Veterinary Office already recorded one confirmed fatality this year while nine others have tested positive for the virus.
“We are very much alarmed with our situation because there are human victims already. And with the cases of dog bites presently increasing, the risk of rabies infection is also high,” Marin said.
Citing their records, he said most of the dog bite victims are children and a significant number of cases involved stray dogs.
He said majority of the incidents happened during weekends when most school children are playing outside their homes.
Aside from the vaccination activities, Marin said their personnel have been regularly rounding up stray dogs in local communities.
The city council passed an anti-stray animal ordinance in 2001 that sets the impounding of stray animals within the city.
It also provides for the imposition of sanctions or penalties on irresponsible pet owners of up to P5,000 in fines.
“One of the key strategies to prevent this problem is to clear our streets of stray dogs. Owners should be responsible and take care of their pets properly,” he said.
Marin said that Republic Act 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act provides that owners shall be held liable if their pets, especially dogs, would stray and bite other people.
“They will pay for the hospitalization, vaccination and other expenses that will be incurred by the victim,” he added. (MindaNews)