The Department of Livestock Development (DLD) has given assurances that the department will not follow a policy of “Set Zero” – wiping out all stray dogs in Thailand.
The assurance that there will be no countrywide slaughter came from the DLD’s Director of the Division of Veterinary Quarantine and Inspection, Dr Burin Sorasithisookkul. It came after social-mediafueled fear of a rabies outbreak across many parts of the country led some people to call for a “Set Zero” solution to be applied to Thailand’s estimated 8 million street dogs. In a private meeting with Soi Dog’s Special Project Coordinator, Ms Varaporn Jittanonta, Dr Burin stressed that the DLD does have the legal right to destroy dogs believed or suspected to be rabid.
When laboratory tests confirm a case of rabies in a certain area, a Rabies Outbreak Zone will be declared in that area. Mass free vaccination will be carried out in the zone by the DLD and local authorities, Dr Burin said, adding that NGOs will be urged to help. All dogs and cats without owners living within a radius of one kilometre of where the infected animal was found will be impounded for at least a month for observation. Unowned dogs and cats outside that radius but within five kilometres will be vaccinated and kept under observation for at least a month.
Dogs and cats that have owners must be re-vaccinated and kept strictly within the owner’s premises for at least a month. Once the impounded dogs and cats are declared rabies-free they will be neutered and may be claimed by feeders or other interested people, or offered for adoption. Dr Burin appealed for cooperation from all people involved and from NGOs in order to eliminate rabies from Thailand by a target date of 2023. He added that he understands the power of social media but urged people to be sure of the facts before sharing posts. The DLD will make contact details for its offices more readily available so that people can request accurate information. The DLD has offices in all 77 provinces and 878 districts in Thailand.