Yangon’s stray dogs may be spared painful deaths after city authorities inked a three-year deal with a US-based group intended to curb the spiraling population humanely.
For years, the city, home to some 70,000 stray dogs, has tried to control the spread of rabies with mass poisonings. Animal lovers have not been pleased.
While there’s been plenty of talk and some small efforts to tackle the problem without poison, the agreement signed on March 31 with Washington DC-based Humane Society International and the Soi Dog Foundation is the first sign of official commitment.
“We have Union government permission for this project, and are now awaiting the arrival of technical teams from HIS and Soi,” Dr Hla May Oo, assistant head of the veterinary and slaughterhouse department of Yangon City Development Committee, told the Myanmar Times.
The project – already partially underway in Mingalar Taung Nyunt and Sanchaung townships – involves giving the rabies vaccine to strays in all 33 townships and surgically castrating them.
The rabies virus, invariably fatal to humans, is alarmingly prevalent in Yangon.
“While I was writing my thesis on the subject, two people died of rabies in Kyeemyingdaing township, and there were about 1,000 cases of dog bites in western Yangon alone,” said Dr Hla May Oo.