Is Belgrade rabies panic covering for dog /cat skinners?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2006:
BELGRADE–A dog pogrom started in Belgrade, the capital of
Serbia, just before the January 2006 escalation of dog-killing in
The Belgrade pretext was an alleged rabies outbreak that
appeared to have been proclaimed by animal control officials trying
to keep a lucrative fiefdom.
“Belgrade activists obtained heavy documentation,” e-mailed
ANIMAL PEOPLE reader Jelena Zaric, “that instead of using donations
for animals’ sake, dogcatchers were killing the animals. There is
no need to remind you,” Zaric opined, “that Serbia is known for dog
and cat fur, and for inhumane treatment of stray animals.
“On January 27,” Zaric continued, “Belgrade animal
advocates obtained information that city officials would announce a
rabies outbreak in two days, after Belgrade activists filed a
complaint about illegal activities that surround a couple of city
officials and one leading animal welfare organization.
“On January 30, city officials declared a high state of
alert, saying that rabies emerged with a fox who was found dead in
Novi Beograd,” a Belgrade suburb.
“So far, there is no proof that the fox existed, nor that
any fox had rabies,” Zaric said on February 1. “It’s interesting
that the guy who reported the dead fox had the same last name as the
city veterinarian. They claim they don’t want to show the fox, who
is now decomposing, as they found her 20 days ago.
“A very aggressive media campaign created panic and violent
responses,” Zaric said. “People walking their pets in parks were
stoned, chased, and threatened.”
No Serbian rabies outbreak was reported to any of the
international authorities who track zoonotic diseases.
Two weeks later, Zaric updated, “Nothing seems to be
happening, except that a judge sent inspectors to investigate.”
Zaric forwarded web sites indicating that the Belgrade dog
killing started five months after the mayor pledged in September 2005
to introduce free microchipping and anti-rabies vaccination of pets.