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July 07 2000

Catholic Church leaders in Indonesia´s Ende archdiocese have advised local Catholics to comply with a government instruction to kill their dogs in an effort to fight the spread of rabies.

Father Cyrilus Lena, episcopal vicar of Bajawa in Ende archdiocese, made the call in a circular that was read out in local parish churches.

The district government of Ngada issued the ruling June 10 ordering people to kill their dogs after receiving reports that mad dogs have bitten 259 people, 16 of whom died of rabies.

Although the government order had the support of local Catholic Church leaders, reportedly only a few people are following it.

Archbishop Abdon Longinus da Cunha of Ende had urged the Bajawa episcopal vicar to cooperate with the government to fight the spread of rabies.

"Many people have died. There is no other choice than to save human lives," Archbishop de Cunha said in his call for "concrete actions."

A veterinary surgeon from the health ministry´s directorate for prevention of animal-borne diseases confirmed that there are continual reports of rabies cases from Ngada district.

According to observers, it is difficult to expect local people to kill their own dogs. The people of Ngada raise dogs for hunting, guarding homes and farms, and for use in traditional rituals.