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Some Dog Lovers Are Not Above Lying

Some Dog Lovers Are Not Above Lying

Some Dog Lovers Are Not Above Lying

The recent rabies outbreak brought out the best in people. The resulting cull in the tristate areas of Perlis, Kedah and Penang galvanised animal lovers to volunteer their time and money to help save stray dogs from the cull. Even foreign NGOs came to offer their help.

However, it also brought out the worst in people. These folks call themselves dog lovers, but spend their time cursing those who do not agree with their opinions 100%. In fact, they often end up in a frenzy of trying to outdo each other in proving who loves stray dogs the most, instead of actually doing something positive.

Needless to say, the truth matters very little to them. All they care about is condemning those who disagree with them. They are certainly not above lying to win an argument. Let’s take a look at a new example – one Kenneth Fong, who posted this rebuttal to my article Turning Rabid Over Rabies :

Lately I come across one blog blogging about the recent culling of homeless dogs in Penang. I will address some very serious false allegation from the author.

(1) The author is using statement like eradicate rabies and tackle problem to confuse people. Eradicate mean to wipe out a problem and tackle in this context is to solve the current problem. WHO all this while never claimed that vaccination can wipe out rabies but can reduce the spreading of rabies within the community and culling totally cannot reduce the spreading of rabies and will only increase it.

The author also fail to address why CM LGE announce to cull all the homeless dogs in Penang on 18th September 2015. This guy deliberately chose not to mention this point in his post. Question is did the Malaysian Veterinary Services Department Enforcement Division director, Datuk Mohamed Radzuan Malek advised CM LGE to cull all the homeless dogs in Penang? The author failed to understand the reason of the outcry from all the animal lovers.


(3) The claim by this author is true where the WVS vaccine will only arrive by end of the year. With this, the author is proud to justify culling is needed but yet again this author deliberately chose not to mention that does this strengthen the justification to cull all the homeless dogs in Penang?

(4) Again the author failed or deliberately chose not to mention that CM LGE is the one who chose not to work with the NGO’s and refuse to take heed of the NGO’s advice on the very first day itself on 17th Sept 2015 when he announce the culling of all homeless dogs in Penang. On Friday 18th September the NGO’s wanted to see CM LGE but he order the guard to close down the grill door to prevent the NGO’s from entering the administrative office to hand over the memorandum. After being pressure only then agree to talk to the NGO’s on Sunday 20th Sept 2015.

(5) & (6) The author simply doesn’t know what he is trying to prove here. From pic # 5, he claimed 30 people were diagnosed with rabies as of 21st Sept 2015. How he derive out figure? From pic #6, he did state out that he is using the assumption that any victim getting bitten by rabies will be infected with rabies but report from the Director General of Health confirmed so far there’s no human being has been tested positive.

(7) Very bold claim from the author trying to belittle the World Health Organization (WHO) when he claimed that it’s not true when WHO states out culling will spread rabies. Hmmm…you know and I also know who is more credible in this claim. WHO or the author? The answer is very obvious right? I have attach a prove where culling does not work and vaccination is the way to go.


Now, let us dissect his “magnum opus” and see what really true, and what’s false. For brevity, I will ignore his petty insults and focus on his factual claims.


Claim #1 : WHO Never Claimed That Vaccinations Can Wipe Out Rabies

Verdict : False

Details : It has always been a WHO goal to wipe out rabies. In fact, that goal is stated in the very first sentence of the WHO Control And Elimination Strategies page. Note the use of the word “elimination“.

Global freedom from the threat of dog-mediated rabies is feasible within our lifetime.

This isn’t a pipe dream, because health authorities have successfully eradicated rabies through vaccines. The Serengeti National Park was declared a rabies-free zone after the Serengeti Health Initiative vaccinated 70% of the dog population.

The WHO even quote three projects in which they are in the process of eradicating rabies in endemic areas :

Tanzania – “The project site in the south-east of the country includes the Dar es Salaam, Lindi, Morogoro, Mtwara and Pwani regions. It comprises 24 districts and 459 wards, with a population of 6 200 000 humans (based on projections from the 2002 census data) and 400 000 dogs (estimated from specific demographic and geographic dog:human ratios).

Canine rabies vaccination in Tanzania | Credit : University of Glasgow

South Africa – “This project is designed to be rolled out to neighbouring regions and countries in order to open up the southern African subcontinent in a massive effort to eliminate canine rabies. Stronger commitments from provincial authorities have alleviated many of the logistic, financial and managerial difficulties in implementing and maintaining successful dog vaccination strategies. External support will help Kwa-Zulu Natal to exert the final push towards the elimination of rabies in the province.

Philippines – “Priority will be given to western Visayas, since this region has been consistently highly endemic for human and canine rabies and has the highest number of patients with animal bites. As a result of logistic restrictions, the Philippine National Rabies Prevention Control Program is still between phases I and II. At the end of the project, it would move into Phase III of animal rabies control, with all the islands of Visayas declared rabies-free zones.


Claim #2 : Culling Totally Cannot Reduce Rabies

Verdict : False

Details : In the past, culling was used extensively as a means to control or eliminate rabies. We now know that it’s not very effective, and that mass vaccination is the most effective way to reduce or eliminate rabies. However, it would be false to claim that culling cannot possibly reduce rabies, or in Kenneth’s own words “culling totally cannot reduce rabies“.

It would be correct to say that studies have shown that culling cannot eliminate rabies in an endemic area. It would be incorrect to say that culling cannot reduce rabies.

The inconvenient fact is a targeted cull can reduce rabies. It is just not as effective as mass vaccination. That is why the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) still lists stray dog population control as one of the measures for tackling rabies. In the OIE Standard for Stray Dog Population Control, it’s stated at the end of Point 5c that :

Dogs that are removed from a community may be too numerous or may be unsuitable for any rehoming scheme. If euthanasia of these unwanted animals is the only option, the procedure should be conducted in accordance with the regulations of the Competent Authority (see point 11 of Article 7.7.6.).

Yes, the OIE Standard for Stray Dog Population Control actually has an entire section on how to euthanise unwanted stray dogs. I won’t post the section because it is a rather long section, but you can read it in the OIE Standard link above.

No rabies eradication program today will use a cull as a primary strategy to eradicate rabies. However, that doesn’t mean that a cull has no place in a rabies eradication program. Even the WHO states this in their Dog Rabies Control page :

However, the targeted and humane removal of unvaccinated, ownerless dogs may be effective when used as a supplementary measure to mass vaccination.

All these standards, however, are predicated on the availability of rabies vaccines for mass vaccinations to be performed. In the case of the 2015 Malaysian rabies outbreak, mass vaccination was not a viable option, due to a lack of vaccines.


Claim #3 : Culling Will Only Increase Rabies

Verdict : False

Details : It has been hypothesised that culling will increase the incidence of rabies due to “continual translocation of dogs with people”. In other words, rabid dogs roam and can migrate into areas left empty by a cull. However, this is only a HYPOTHESIS.

The 2013 study “Evidence-based control of canine rabies: a critical review of population density reduction” even quotes an example :

For example, within a few days of a village-wide cull in Kelusa, Bali, where rabies had not occurred previously, two residents brought in unvaccinated, potentially infected puppies from outside the village to replace their culled, vaccinated adult dogs.

The study also proposed other compensatory mechanisms that reduce the effectiveness of a cull on rabies eradication :

These include concomitant reductions in mortality from reduced competition for food (although the actual intensity of competition in free-roaming dogs is unknown), reductions in the dumping of surplus puppies/unwanted dogs and improved care of dogs. To address these issues, we are currently investigating the effects of human behaviour in response to culling on dog population dynamics and disease transmission

I added the last sentence to point out that these are still hypotheses, not scientific fact.


Claim #4 : I Failed To Address Why Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng Announced The Cull

Verdict : False

Details : In the section “Culling Dogs Is The Best Way To Control Rabies“, I already mentioned why Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the cull :

As Lim Guan Eng himself pointed out, he made the decision based on the recommendation of the veterinary and health authorities.


Claim #5 : Datuk Mohamad Radzuan Malek Did Not Advise Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng To Cull All Of The Homeless Dogs In Penang

Verdict : False

Details : In the same section “Culling Dogs Is The Best Way To Control Rabies“, I quoted Datuk Mohamad Radzuan Malek recommending the cull of wild dogs :

In fact, Malaysian Veterinary Services Department Enforcement Division director, Datuk Mohamed Radzuan Malek, said :

If the wild dogs are not controlled, and culled, the rabies epidemic will not be truly controlled and can spread. More importantly, if it spreads to a dog with an owner, the risks of infection is very high.


Claim #6 : I Proudly Justified The Cull Of All Stray Dogs Because There Are No Vaccines

Verdict : False

Details : In the section “There Is Logic Behind The “Madness”“, I pointed out that a properly-executed cull would only occur in areas where cases of rabies have been reported. A targeted cull, in other words. The same targeted cull that was mentioned by the WHO :

However, the targeted and humane removal of unvaccinated, ownerless dogs may be effective when used as a supplementary measure to mass vaccination.

I have never once advocated or justified the cull of all stray dogs, whether there are vaccines available or otherwise.


Claim #7 : I Chose Not To Mention That The Chief Minister Refused To Work With The NGOs From The 17th-19th Of September

Verdict : False

Details : I can only base my article on what was reported in the media, preferably from more than one source. I, for example, cannot verify Kenneth’s claim that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng “order [sic] the guard to close down the grill door to prevent the NGO’s [sic] from entering the administrative office to hand over the memorandum” on the 18th of September.

This video shows the MPPP office partially shuttered against the protest, but there is no way to know who ordered the closure of the office to the protestors. The same video also shows people going about their business within, and even entering the MPPP office.

It appears that only the protestors were forbidden from entering. News reports also indicate that the NGOs at the protest did in fact hand over a memorandum to the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

Just now we have sent the memorandum to the Penang Chief Minister office. We will be giving Penang State Government for 24 hours to respond about the issues due to it was totally urgent. Not sure how many dog have been killed at outside when we are here. If after 24 hours Penang State Government did not give any respond, we will find our own way to solve the issues,” said Committee Members of Stop The Killing Group Dalbinder Singh Gill. | Credit : PocketNews

My article actually discussed the false claim that the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng refused to talk to the NGOs. I never addressed the issue of whether they were working together or not, because that was not a claim I encountered when I wrote the article. Neither can I post every single instance of Lim Guan Eng talking to NGOs. I could have posted this conversation between an NGO and Lim Guan Eng on the 19th of September, for instance :

The fact that I did not post the conversation above is not an indication of a cover up of the fact that Lim Guan Eng was talking to the NGOs even on the 19th of September. Obviously, Kenneth Fong’s claim that “After being pressure only then agree to talk to the NGO’s on Sunday 20th Sept 2015” is categorically false.


Claim #8 : I Falsely Made Up The Figure Of 30 Rabies Infections By The 21st Of September

Verdict : False

Details : On the 21st of September, Penang Health Director Dr. Zailan Adnan confirmed the 3rd case of rabies in Penang. In this Straits Times report :

Veterinary Services Department deputy director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam said the first case in Perlis was on Aug 19, with 22 victims in total so far.Five people were bitten by stray dogs in Kedah since Sept 13 and infected, he said.

In short, Penang (3) + Perlis (22) + Kedah (5) = 30. Higher numbers were reported. ChannelNewsAsia and Astro Awani both reported on the 21st of September that there were 39 cases by the 18th of September. ChannelNewsAsia then updated the article the next day, quoting one Sumisha Naidu :

As of today, 21 dogs showing clinical signs out of 42 that tested positive; 2,257 dogs put down; 2,433 vaccinated; 82 people bitten


Claim #9 : The Director General of Health Confirmed That No Human Being Has Been Tested Positive For Rabies

Verdict : Technically True

Details : As I pointed out in the section “But Didn’t The Health Minister Say That No One Was Infected With Rabies?“, Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S Subramaniam also said that there were “no confirmed cases of rabies in humans so far“.

Technically, that soundbite is correct because all of the victims were treated before they became symptomatic, but it is not accurate, because there is no antemortem test for rabies.

The only definitive test involves euthanising the infected animal and removing its brain to inspect for the presence of Negri bodies, or to perform the fluorescent antibody test (FAT). Because it would be criminal (heh!) to kill a human being to test his/her brains for rabies, there is no way to know for sure if any human victims were infected with rabies.

The diagnosis of human victims is usually based on any symptoms they may exhibit, or the inspection of the dogs that bit them. If the dog that bit a victim is found to have rabies, then it is assumed that the victim is infected with rabies. The victim would be prophylactically treated with the rabies vaccine.


Claim #10 : WHO States That Culling Will Spread Rabies

Verdict : False

Details : The WHO has never said that culling will spread rabies. The WHO has only stated that culling is ineffective in eradicating rabies. In fact, the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) has an entire section on how to euthanise unwanted stray dogs. They wouldn’t do that if culling will spread rabies.

I have also pointed out earlier that the idea that culling will spread rabies is a hypothesis, not a scientific fact.


Claim #11 : Culling Does Not Work

Verdict : Arguably false in this case

Details : Although culling has been shown to be ineffective on its own, a targeted cull can blunt or even stop an outbreak in a non-endemic area.

In fact, the lack of new cases since the 22nd of September would actually vindicate proponents of the cull. After all – no mass vaccination drive was carried out due to the lack of the rabies vaccine. Therefore, the cull probably arrested the outbreak in the tristate area.


Claim #12 : Vaccination Is The Way To Go

Verdict : I cannot agree more

Details : As I pointed time and time again, vaccination is the way to go… the gold standard for rabies eradication.

However, it is asinine to keep harping on a mass vaccination drive when there are no vaccines available to vaccinate pet dogs, much less the strays. That would be like insisting on driving a car when it has no petrol. You may make a lot of noise, but you won’t be going anywhere.


Being A Dog Lover Does Not Give You The Right To Lie

Overly emotional dog lovers like Kenneth Fong always take things too personally to do the right thing, even for the dogs they claim to love so much.

Rabies is fatal not just to humans, but also the dogs who get infected. Therefore, when there is an outbreak, the most important thing for both man and canine is to stop the outbreak as soon as possible. The longer the outbreak carries on, the more dogs (and potentially humans) will die.

Genuine dog lovers should not only be concerned about a cull, but about saving the most dogs from certain death. If a targeted cull of a thousand dogs is necessary to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of other dogs, that may be a bargain worth taking. This case is a great example of how we can’t always have our cake and eat it too.

I can understand why Kenneth Fong and his ilk are not above lying and fudging the facts. I just don’t agree with them. The truth is powerful enough. If you need to lie, it only shows how little faith you have in your own facts.

Please help to stop the spread of lies and misinformation by these dishonest dog lovers. Share this article out!

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