In what remains a war-torn country, with Afghans continuing to fight the Taliban, few people give much thought to the animals living there, especially free-roaming dogs. But all this could be about to change for the country’s dogs, thanks to a UK charity.
The Mayhew Animal Home has been working overseas to address the issues around free-roaming dog populations for more than 15 years. “We work to promote animal welfare and the humane management of cats and dogs through vet-training programmes and a network of community animal care initiatives”, Caroline Yates, CEO of The Mayhew Animal Home tells K9 Magazine.
Killer disease taking the lives of humans and dogs in Afghanistan
One of the main public health concerns affecting Afghanistan is rabies.
With over 95% of the 59,000 human rabies deaths each year occurring in Africa and Asia as a result of being bitten by an infected dog, not only from free-roaming dogs but also from owned pets carrying the disease.
Many countries spend millions on inhumane and ineffective programmes to control and contain rabies, such as mass culling of dogs. Other methods, such as treating using human post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment is frequently inaccessible to many as it is too expensive, so do we just accept the mass culling of dogs is the only option available to countries in Africa and Asia?
In short, no. There is another solution that’s not only much more effective but will save lives, both dog and human, according to Caroline.
She says, “Lives can be saved by mass dog vaccination programmes – an intervention that is also much more cost-effective. Vaccination of at least 70% of a dog population is considered to be sufficient to enable the elimination of canine rabies. Combined with education programmes on rabies control and prevention, these are the solutions to eradicate this terrible disease which presently brings needless suffering to both people and dogs.
“We believe that education is key in relieving the needless suffering of animals overseas, and that’s why we help fund and implement various vet training and animal welfare projects across the world. For several years we have funded a neutering and rabies vaccination programme in Ranchi, India, that has so far vaccinated over 50,000 dogs in eight years and educated over 270,000 children…