TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol June 22 (PIA) --With animal welfare groups barking at its heels, Bohol blinks in its aggressive campaign against rabies.
But program authorities are sniffing for other ways to get the campaign snarling again, authorities at the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Elimination Council (BRPEC) shared.
"There is no turning back," declared Dr Stella Marie Lapiz, program executive officer and Bohol provincial veterinarian.
Dr. Lapiz has earlier aired her concern over reports that program implementers in the barangays are threatened by potential cases from animal rights activists unleashed to stop the elimination of dogs.
Held at bay in the pursuit of dog population control, BRPEC leaders look into the ongoing massive animal registration and vaccination as immediate alternative, while pressing for responsible pet ownership and empowering barangay rabies teams to seriously consider the paralegal measures to force owners to be responsible for their pets.
"The immediate goal is to get a high vaccination turn-out," confesses Romulo Garcia, rabies program admin officer and key motivator at the office of the Provincial Veterinarian.
World Health Organization, the global governing body on the conduct of global anti-rabies programs said a place should attain over 80% vaccination of its dog population for 3 consecutive years before the place is declared rabies-free.
Garcia however excitedly said the current vaccination rate has surpassed the WHO standards of over 80%.
Off to a good start with zero rabies cases after ranking high in national and regional tallies years back, Bohol saunters to a less than average performance in its rabies program when local officials' attention shifted to disaster relief and rehabilitation following the triple whammy of disasters and a major earthquake.
The after effect proved unlucky for Bohol, which had at least three unconfirmed human rabies cases, according to Bohol human rabies coordinator at the provincial Health Office, Polizena Rances.
This as Bantay Rabies sa Barangay, an institutionalized barangay rabies watch team falter in the campaign for fear of facing administrative and potentially criminal cases for eliminating stray dogs unredeemed by owners after three days of impound.
A provincial ordinance on the Provincial Rabies Prevention has been passed in Bohol as a guide for municipal and barangay rabies team on the implementation of the rabies program, but while the ordinance vows protection, some barangay officials know too well to keep off suits especially with elections just around the corner, according to program sources.
Already, Governor Edgar Chatto, who aired alarm over the potential failure of the program after reaping a Gawad Galing Pook award, ordered to set aside funds for another batch of province-wide dog vaccination, during his latest state of the province address.
Leashed now and left baying without the threat of a bite, rabies council now eyes its annual Barangay Livestock Aides (BALA) Congress June 23-25, at the Jjs Seafoods Village, as a venue to regroup and encourage each other into another send-off to attain the WHO standard and make Bohol rabies-free.