Ting (second left) speaking at the press conference.

SIBU: The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) will hire a private contractor to catch stray dogs as part of the measures to step up effort to curb the spread of rabies in the area under its jurisdiction.

Its Chairman Clarence Ting said the proactive has to be taken as rabies in Sibu is getting more alarming than the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The rabies epidemic has claimed two lives so far, but no lives have been lost as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak here.

“Therefore, during the monthly meeting this morning, we approved the hiring of a private contractor company (to catch stray dogs).

“We hope that this will help reduce the rabies problem in Sibu,” he told a press conference after chairing the monthly SMC meeting which resumed today.

According to Ting, SMC has also increased its manpower for the dog catching unit from five to 11 persons.

“But the numbers are still insufficient because the number of stray dogs roaming on the streets is still many,” he said.

He also said that he would work with the Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) to ensure that rabies can be prevented more quickly and effectively.

He said six areas under the jurisdiction of SMC were declared rabies-infested, while four others were in the Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) area.

“Therefore, we will work with SRDC to curb this problem as it is very serious,” he added.

Ting also revealed that the two SMC dog catchers who were attacked by a dog recently had been tested positive for rabies.

“I urge the people of Sibu not to overlook the rabies problem because the disease has no cure and it is life-threatening,” he said.

He called upon the public to give their full cooperation by being a responsible pet owner.

As listed in the Dog Licensing and Control By Laws 2018, he urged the dog owners to apply for a dog license for their dog from the council.

Besides, he said they should vaccinate their dog with anti-rabies vaccination; take reasonable steps to ensure that their dog is not a nuisance or pose a danger to the public and keep their dog within house compound and not letting it loose at any public places.

Ting also advised the public to be on high alert of the surrounding and not to walk around with stray dog.

“We believe that the responsible of pet ownership is the primary key for prevention of rabies and this rabies issue can be reduced greatly and eventually to be eradicated totally,” he stressed.