Thursday, October 09, 2014

Editorial by Ernesto T. Solidum

Wanted: Responsible Pet Ownership

Weekly Kapihan on September 27, 2014 discussed the topic, “World Rabies Day” held at NVC Carmen Hotel, Kalibo, Aklan. The lone guest is Dr. Ronald R. Lorenzo, Provincial Rabies Coord., Office of Provincial Veterinarian (OPVet), Kalibo, Aklan.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. All warm blooded animals are potential carriers but more particularly to dogs, wolves, cayotes, bats, foxes, skunks and ground squirrels. Disease is commonly transmitted to a person through bite of a rabid dog and when neglected, results to 100 percent mortality.

Aklan has 47,787 dog population where only 26.36 percent has been vaccinated. The only way to insure a rabies-free environment is to vaccinate dogs by licensed veterinarians. 

Target for this year’s program is 70 percent, prioritizing those towns where services of veterinarians are requested. Fortunately, Boracay is declared rabies-free because of closed collaboration among NGO’s and OPVet. Their saturation drive conducted in the 3 barangays is very commendable.

Dr. Lorenzo explained that rabies kills 250-300 Filipinos each day despite the fact that rabies is preventable and treatable. Rabies Act of 2007 or Responsible Pet Ownership stipulates the following requirements: a) yearly vaccination of dogs, b) animal registration with OPVet, c) provision of adequate food and care, d) regular consultation with OPVet or private practitioners on health problems, and e) no straying outside of residential premises.

Observance in Aklan of World Rabies Day is doggy parade, pet blessings, Oplan Kapon, Pet Care Day, Info Caravan, Dog Deworming, Rabies Vaccination and Consultation, and Dog treatment of diseases.

Clinical symptoms of rabies in human are 2-4 days of headache, low grade fever, malaise or discomfort, loss of appetite and nausea. Sore throat precedes involvement of the nervous system. Hydrophobia sets in where sight of water causes contraction of the throat muscles. Convulsion and agitation alternate with lucid periods. Most of 10 patients die of convulsion or progressive paralysis.
Normally, incubation period is 14-20 days. However, virus may remain dormant for 5-20 years. The duration varies widely depending on site of wound from the brain and immunity of the individual. Virus movement to the brain is 3 mm per hour confides Dr. Lorenzo.

First aid treatment if one is bitten by a suspected rabid dog is to wash the infected wound thoroughly with soap and water. Benzalkonium chloride or betadine reduces infections. Injection of alcohol into the site could be helpful.

Dr. Lorenzo warns of killing the suspected rabid dog outright but to observe the animal for 3-5 days. If the dog dies, cut off the head and immediately bring the specimen to OPVet for lab analysis. Under no circumstances must the patient be treated by arbularyo or quack doctors. The 11 year old elementary pupil in Mabilo, Kalibo, victim of rabid dog died just that. He was bitten in November 2013 and passed away in February 2014.

Classifications of rabid dogs fall into two categories: a) furious-dog is highly excited, restless and vicious. He attacks and bites other dogs and even its owner. b) Dumb-partial paralysis of vocal muscles often makes the dog unable to bark. Animal dies without apparent signs of illness.

It is admirable that municipalities of Altavas, Balete, and Malinao have reached vaccination target of 70 percent. The simple reason is that these towns have licensed veterinarians. Presently, Aklan has achieved 40 percent accomplishment and while the supply of vaccine may be adequate it would be herculean job to penetrate all the 327 barangays. Obviously, dogs must be voluntarily brought by their owners to Brgy. Hall during scheduled vaccination date.

Ironically, dog lovers are also dog eaters. They flagrantly violate the law that prohibits slaughtering and eating of dog meat. Stray dogs in urban area like Kalibo must be catched and confined at Dog Impounding Center based on existing Ordinance. The problem is the facility is not rehabilitated since Yolanda struck.

Animal bite Center Services administered by DRSTMH and Saint Gabriel Hospital are most welcomed. However, considering that most patients are indigents, it is highly recommended that hospital charges be downgraded in their favor. This will discourage treatment of quack doctors and unnecessary deaths.

Dogs are man’s best friends. They serve their masters 24/7 without pay. Actually, they are most loyal and competent among animals when they are properly nourished and cared for. Under the law, pets have animal rights and common demand is responsible pet ownership. /MP

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