KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Bongi Sithole-Moloi says it is disappointing that many dog owners are failing to take good care of their pets. Moloi was speaking during pet vaccination drive to mark World Rabies Day in Umlazi, south of Durban.

Umlazi has recorded four deaths in the last three months including that of a 2-year-old boy.

Sithole Moloi says her department will roll out the programme throughout the province.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says about eight people have died from rabies in various parts of the province in 2018 alone. Out of the eight, four of them were said to be from eThekwini Metro.

This year an additional four people have since died in this very same metro.

Provincial MEC, Bongi Sithole-Moloi says she is worried as the number of rabies related cases continue to increase.

“What is very important is that people must take care of their animals. They must clean them because if it is not clean it can spread diseases. We are worried about. At this time, we have five people who have been affected but we need or the owners of the dogs and I always get worried when I see a dog hit by the car, but nobody is collecting it and that is not healthy as it causes diseases amongst our communities,” says Sithole-Moloi.

Sithole Moloi says the alleged hijacking of government vehicles in Umlazi has also resulted in the reluctance of officials to bring pet vaccination services into the area.

“We have a serious trouble of people who hijack our vehicles when we come to assist the community. We have spoken to the representative of the mayor that Metro Police must come with us here … the hijack of cars here take us back. Instead of doing more campaigns, we go back and buy other cars,” says Sithole-Moloi.

Dog owner Bheki Shange, who also took advantage of the pet vaccination drive in Umlazi, urged dog owners to take good care of their pets.

“I always vaccinate my dog and sometimes tablets for vaccination. It helps a lot because nobody will be infected by rabies. People must really love their animals and keep them in good health,” says Shange.

Umlazi resident, Sthembiso Mqadi called on the government to ensure the continuity of pet vaccination drives in all communities.

“Vaccination is very important as dogs are the carriers of rabies sometimes. If there is a campaign within the SPCA, I take mine to for vaccination.”

The department says people must be aware of common symptoms of rabies which are fever, headache, muscle ache and hallucination. People are also encouraged to make use of the post-exposure rabies treatment which is available freely across government hospitals.