Collars Not Cruelty in the Fight Against Rabies

Collars not Cruelty in the Fight Against rabies

Twenty million dogs around the world like this one are brutally killed every year. One of the main reasons for this cruelty is fear of rabies, but killing dogs doesn’t stop disease. Only widespread dog vaccination is scientifically proven to stop this entirely preventable disease, long-term. Compassion works, Cruelty just kills – it destroys dogs and allows rabies to spread unchecked.

Two Case Studies to think about:

Sri Lanka

Every year, for more than 15 years, more than 2,000 dogs were rounded up and gassed in the city of Colombo, causing horrific suffering to every single one of them. But, thanks to a WSPA-funded project, Colombo’s dogs are safer and healthier than ever before.

In the 1990s, Colombo’s roaming dog population was unhealthy and growing out of control. Fearing rabies, city authorities sanctioned the mass killing of dogs, despite many being considered pets by local people. A third of the city’s dogs disappeared from the streets. Rabies on the other hand was still a real problem for animals and people as these culls had no affect on the disease spreading. At its peak, 70 dog rabies cases were reported in Colombo, despite the 30,000 dogs that were killed to try and stop the Rabies problem.

In 2007, WSPA and Sri Lankan organization Blue Paw Trust worked together to convince authorities to stop their cruel, costly and failing approach, and allow us to run a mass dog vaccination and public education program in the city – protecting dogs, protecting people and rebuilding the trust between them. The results were amazing: in the first year, dog rabies cases halved. And they have continued to fall as the vaccination program has grown. At the end of 2010, there were only 10 cases in the entire city.

Blue Paw Trust reports that Colombo’s roaming dogs are now not only safer, but also healthier, suggesting local people are feeding and caring for them without fear. The collars vaccinated dogs are given are a symbol of protection and hope. Visitors from 11 governments have seen the Colombo project in action: they witnessed a city rewarded for its compassion and have asked to be on the list to work with the WSPCA and have the Red Collar Campaign brought to their countries.


When rabies broke out on the tourist-friendly island of Bali in 2009, authorities acted swiftly to try and stamp it out by strychnine poisoning the roaming dogs. They thought a rabies-free island was a dog-free island. Tens of thousands of dogs died in agony.  And the problem for the authorities was: it didn’t work, more rabies cases were being reported on a regular basis and the government was at a loss of what else it could do in order to keep its citizens safe.

The Bali Animal Welfare Association and WSPA campaigned together to convince Bali’s government to prove what science already shows: vaccination works. Starting with one area of the island, the team worked around the clock to treat enough of the dog population to render it safe from rabies, giving each vaccinated dog a distinctive red collar to identify it as having been vaccinated and as part of the education process for locals.

The results were striking. And conclusive enough to stop the cull and convince authorities to let the team work island-wide to end the problem of canine rabies on the island. In the first six months, the project saw a more than 45% decrease in cases of canine rabies and a 48% decrease in rabies-related human deaths, when compared to the same period in the previous year.

At the same time as the Red Collar vaccination campaign was taking place across the island there was an educational component. Local villagers were taught what to look for in a dog showing signs of rabies. They were taught what they need to do in order to keep their family safe as well as how to prevent bites from any dog not just infected animals.

Fact began to overtake fear in the people of Bali and soon the government had fully adopted the Red Collar Campaign as an  effective method of rabies control to protect the future of their inhabitants both people and animal.


What you can do

Visit the Collars not Cruelty website and adopt a virtual dog  like that one at the top of this post who one week from today, will join 100,000 virtual dogs  “marching”across the Internet to deliver a global message: Use collars, not cruelty, in the fight against rabies. The dogs – all of who have been named and virtually “collared” by animal welfare advocates around the world – represent the strong global support for the World Society for the Protection of Animals‘ (WSPA) “Collars Not Cruelty” campaign, which promotes vaccination as an alternative to mass dog killings. Then you can help spread the word about the campaign

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  1. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful organization.

  2. Hi

    Thanks so much for letting us know about this organization. We rescued our dog this year and I cannot even imagine what would have happened to her if we didn’t. I will definitely join!



  3. thanks for the info

  4. Thanks for sharing info this on this great campaign!

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