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Help for Sichuan's dogs

Over the past few days, there have been several conflicting news reports about a possible cull of dogs in Qingchuan, one of the counties worst-hit by the earthquake. We’ve also heard that the Army may be sending snipers in to two districts to shoot surviving dogs. We’re trying to get as much information as we can to see if there is anything we can do.

It seems that in Dujiangyiang, an area badly affected by the quake, the authorities have responded favourably to our offer of helping to provide rabies vaccinations for people and dogs in the community as there have been a number of dog-bite cases. 

This is considered a constructive, sensitive way of ultimately helping more dogs (and cats) by offering tangible help for the population of survivors by sourcing and bringing in the vaccines as a matter of urgency. It will also provide an opportunity of assessing the situation on the ground and open doors for more dialogue on how we can help the community and the dogs and cats affected in the quake.

Animals Asia’s Christie and Rainbow are going to Dujiangyiang tomorrow (Friday) to meet with the authorities there to work out the details.

The human rabies vaccinations cost RMB68 for a full course of five and we’re intending to offer 500 for now for the people and the same for the dogs and assessing as it goes on. The human vaccinations will be both pre-exposure and post-exposure.

In addition we are putting together a rabies fact sheet in Chinese to distribute to the public at the same time we administer the vaccinations. We’re also adding information about how dogs are so useful in an earthquake, sniffing out survivors and of course offering comfort.

On a more immediate level, we are helping a local animal rescue centre that is facing a food shortage. Qiao Wei and Qiao Na, who run the Qi Ming Pet Rescue Centre in Chengdu have been overwhelmed with the number of dogs brought in and desperately need more food. 

We are liaising with a pet food company that has agreed to donate five 15kg bags of dog food and we will buy more as needed. The Humane Society International and Gil Michaels, who is founder/president of the Compassion for Animals Foundation in the US have very kindly offered us funding for this.

The pet food company has also offered to team up with us to help starving dogs and cats in the disaster area so we are urgently looking into how best we can do this.

We’re also hoping to arrange a meeting for tomorrow (Friday) with various people, including the Hong Kong SPCA who flew in on Tuesday to liaise with the local dog and cat groups.

As to the dog cull in Qingchuan, Animals Asia and a number of local animal welfare groups are jointly sending a letter to the county authorities pleading with them to spare those dogs that still have families in recognition of how these animals can provide much help and comfort at a time like this. 

Evidence across the world shows that dogs can perform beneficial roles during disaster situations such as earthquakes. They lead rescue workers to survivors (pet dogs will often be seen barking and whining at areas where their families have been trapped), they will catch rats responsible for spreading disease and provide emotional support for those saddened or bereaved.

We are also offering to supply the authorities in Qingchuan with vaccinations for rabies and other diseases in a further effort to show them that the family dogs would be protected and not a risk to the public. We hope that they may see these gestures as a better option than culling.

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