Siquijor has been rabies-free for last decade

SIQUIJOR ISLAND – Siquijor has maintained its distinction as the only province in the Philippines that has been rabies-free for the last decade.

The distinction earned its recognition during the 2018 National Rabies Summit in Parañaque City.

Siquijor provincial veterinarian Dr. Bernadette Tabada told Manila Bulletin that maintaining the rabies-free status is “is not that easy.”

The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has to strictly implement procedures, one of which is the annual 10-day province-wide rabies vaccination and immunization campaign whose goal is to immunize 80 percent of dog’s population.

Siquijor has 6,998 dogs and 1,278 Siquijor has been rabies-free for last decadehave been vaccinated, Tabada added.

The annual campaign immunization and all other anti-rabies activities are closely coordinated with the six local government units in the island, most especially in the dissemination of information in remote barangays, Tabada added.

One of the big problems is the elimination of stray dogs, which remains because of the six municipalities in the island, only San Juan and Siquijor towns have impounding facilities.

Stray dogs or feral dogs live and multiply in caves and come out usually during the full moon to hunt prey.

Stray animals caught wandering in the streets are impounded and, if no one claims them within three days, they are euthanized.

To control the population of stray dogs, the provincial veterinary office conducts regular spay and neutering

Last year, 921 stray dogs were spayed and neutered, Tabada said.

From January to September 2018, the province vaccinated 88 percent or 3,569 dogs out of 4,075 dog population in Siquijor, exceeding the 80 percent standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Tabada said the island’s ports are closely monitored to prevent the entry of unvaccinated animals, contributing to the success of the rabies-free program.

All dogs or animals arriving in Siquijor need complete documentation.

“We ship back a maximum of three dogs every year, since there are people who tried to smuggle in dogs, especially puppies,” Tabada said.

By Minerva Newman

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