HA NOI (VNS)— Owners of dogs and cats will soon be required to register their pets with local authorities as the Government seeks to curb the number of rabies cases in Viet Nam.
Under the new regulations recently announced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, pets will be allocated an individual identity number, making it easier for them to be tracked.
The ministry has asked provincial departments of agriculture and rural development to build nationwide implementation plans for the regulation and submit these to their People's Committees as soon as possible.
The move forms part of the national programme on curbing rabies for the period of 2012-15. Specifically, the programme stipulates that local authorities and animal health departments at commune and ward levels must control the number of households raising domestic dogs and cats and the number of these pets in each household.
Local authorities at district and grassroot levels will also be asked to set up teams to catch homeless dogs and cats which might be unvaccinated and could become rabid. These animals would be kept at local veterinary centres where their health would be monitored and they would be culled after three days if no owners come forward for them, the ministry said.
The ministry aims to have 80 per cent of domestic dogs vaccinated and under strict control by 2015 and hopes to reduce the number of rabies-caused fatalities by 30 per cent.
According to the ministry's Animal Health Department, roughly 100 people die of rabies in Viet Nam each year and more than 90 per cent of rabies cases in humans are caused by unvaccinated dogs.
The disease has claimed the lives of 74 people in the northern mountainous provinces so far this year. Of which, northern Thai Nguyen Province has the highest death rate with over 40 fatalities.
However, local authorities and the public have expressed concerns over the feasibility of the regulations.
Nguyen Quang Tho, Vice Chairman of the Huong Son District People's Committee of central Ha Tinh Province told Gia dinh & Xa hoi (Families & Society) newspaper that the slaughter and trading of domestic dogs and cats were quite common in the district, so controlling the movements of these pets would be difficult.
Currently, there were about 16,000 dogs in the district and the number of cats remained unknown, he said.
Le Trung Kien, Chairman of Mai Dich Ward People's Committee in Ha Noi echoed these sentiments, adding that a large number of dogs need to be classified before granting numbers.
"There are pet dogs and dogs raised for the meat supply, as well as dogs that are missing or dead. This is a hard task," he said.
Tran Duc Hung, a dog meat restaurant owner in the Cam Thuy District of central Thanh Hoa Province said the number of dogs he purchased every month was quite large.
"What kinds of procedures will we have to go through when every dog has its own management number?" he asked.
Rabies, caused by a virus transmitted through an animal bite, has the second highest fatality rate among infectious diseases in Viet Nam. However, public awareness on the proper treatment of wounds caused by rabid dogs remains low. — VNS