Delta Government says it is committed to funding veterinary public health activities as it targets immunisation of over 5,000 dogs across the state this year.
Mr Julius Egbede, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, stated this on Monday while inaugurating the state yearly free immunisation programme against rabies in dogs and cats in Asaba.
According to Egbedi, one of the policy thrust of the state government is the promotion of public health.
“The Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration has made funds available, annually, for various veterinary public health activities which include prevention of animal diseases like rabies in dogs, African Swine Fever in pigs, Avian influenza in birds and “pest does petite ruminants“ in goats.
“Most of these diseases are endemic in Nigeria with the outbreak the records of up to 100 per cent mortality once contracted.
“Rabies is a contagious and highly fatal zoonotic disease of dogs, cats, man and other animals which infection is through bite and silica of infected dog or certain species of wild bat.”
He, however, called on the dogs and cats owners to promptly immune their pets and report any case of dog bite immediately to any veterinary office in the state for immediate attention, to prevent deaths.
Earlier, Dr Charles Diai, Director of Veterinary Services in the ministry, said that the programme inauguration was aimed at eliminating rabies and other related animal diseases before 2030.
“The essence is to prevent rabies, a killer disease that affects the human being and if everybody vaccinates his or her dog and cat against rabies, owners of such animals the community and the whole state will be free from rabies.
“Our target, this year, is to vaccinate over 5,000 dogs across the state against rabies.
“As at last year, we have been able to immunise 3, 620 dogs but we are targeting a higher number as the year goes on with a view to eliminating the disease.
“I call on all dog and cat owners to take advantage of this free immunisation to keep their pets free from rabies and ensure the elimination of the disease in the state,” he said.
Some dog owners, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the event, thanked the state government for the free immunisation programme.
They called on others to take advantage of the gesture to immunise their pets.
Mr Stanley Onyekaonwu said that his dog (Boer Bull) had at various occasions bitten his visitors, but assured that the dog had been vaccinated yearly against rabies.
According to him, it will cost him about N5, 000 to give a full dose of the vaccine yearly to the dog.
“We appreciate the government for the gesture and we extend the call to other dog owners to take advantage of this free vaccination, he said.
The highpoint was the vaccination of the dogs by the commissioner, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sir Austin Oghoro, and the Federal Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Felix Kehis.
NAN reports that the free vaccination which commenced on Monday will end on Nov. 30, across the state.