The Irrawaddy
[gallery type="square" ids="113541,113549,113548,113547,113546,113542,113543,113544,113550,113545"] RANGOON — The Veterinary and Slaughterhouse Department of the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) sterilized and vaccinated stray dogs in Sanchaung Township on Thursday, in cooperation with Blue Heart, a Rangoon-based animal welfare group. According to YCDC, the move was part of a pilot project for “rabies free status” in three townships—Sanchaung, Lanmadaw and Mingalar Taung Nyunt. The project is primarily funded through donations raised by Min Lee, the wife of former US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell. According to the YCDC’s figures, about 180,000 stray dogs live on the streets of Burma’s commercial capital, which has increased from over 70,000 in 2013. YCDC had used  “lethal methods,”—scattering poison-laced meat in the streets—to control Rangoon’s stray dog population for decades. Animal welfare activists have campaigned against poisoning stray dogs and suggested that the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method is the only sustainable solution for decreasing the population in the long run. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person dies every 15 minutes from rabies globally. More than 95 percent of rabies-related human deaths occur in Asia and Africa, and within those areas, Burma is considered a “high rabies endemic country.” The WHO states that Burma has the highest number of rabies-related deaths in Southeast Asia with some 1,000 deaths per year.

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